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Us 35, Tom Brokaw 28, America 25, Mr. Brokaw 20, California 19, Germany 15, South Dakota 12, New York 12, Montana 10, Omaha 9, Europe 7, United States 6, Bobby Kennedy 6, Richard Nixon 6, Chicago 6, Berlin 6, Afghanistan 6, Brokaw 6, Navy 5, John F. Kennedy 5,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    September 6, 2012
    5:00 - 8:00pm EDT  

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and say what did we do wrong? what can we do better next time? so you retool, and i think of remodding your house. if you're going to make an addition, you've got to knock down some walls, rethink what you want to do and rebuild. and that's what's happened. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. next, booktv's "in depth" discussion with journalist and author tom brokaw. over the next three hours, the former anchor and managing editor of nbc nightly news talks about the world war ii generation, the 1960s and politics today. a peabody and emmy award winner, mr. brokaw is the author of six books including new york times' bestseller, "the greatest generation." his memoir, "a long way from home," and his 2011 release "the time of our lives." >> host: tom brokaw, what was your reaction when you were asked to be president nixon's
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press secretary? >> guest: um, startled, i suppose, is the best way of describing it and hoping that i would be up to it. >> host: where were you with nbc? >> guest: i was in los angeles. i was just kind of beginning my ramping up in my career. i had just signed a new contract. it was ae very unsettling moment forme me. i actually just recentlyentl reunited with the man who took me to lunch and made me the offer. >> host: who was that? >> guest: his name was cliff miller, and he said they didn't give up, they kept coming back to him. miller. he looked into his ice he is not going to do this. you're always flattered when some one in the white house want you to serve in an important role.
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my family were not nixon people. to put it mildly. but at the same time, i had covered him. i knew that he had extraordinary political skills. he was a very complicated man in so many ways but the idea of going to work for him never, ever, faintly passed across my consciousness and i was in, i wouldn't say i was in a state of terror but i was in some anxiety. this is something i didn't want to get out. i was starting my career as political reporter. i didn't want people to think i was a nixon person or kennedy person or johnson person. i went back to nbc after the pitch had been made and said you got to get me out of this. julian good man, head of nbc, was soming down from the might house. he went to bob haldeman quietly. privately. it was haldeman's idea. we have big plans for tom and it went away. you want to hear the
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follow-up? there are two pretty intriguing. no one knew about it. and many years later after watergate, after the resignation of the president, i was doing a retrospective nixon years and watergate and i was standing backstage and waiting to go on embraced from behind in a big bear hug. this familiar voice, how many times i. it was bob haldeman. i said, bob, never comes up again. when i turned 50 they went around with a camera crew to get the reactions of a lot of people. the camera crew came back in my office wide-eyed and tipped me off what was going on. we've just been with richard nixon. he was standing in front after flag, look at this. they played the tape and it is nixon saying i always thought tom brokaw was a man of good judgement. he never showed better judgment when he turned down
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the offer to be my press secretary. history turned out fine for me. i didn't take the job. i don't think i would have been very good at it. i would have had journal listic instincts saying to one. reporters, i think you have a point there. it is a special kind of job and i was not equipped for it. >> host: tom brokaw writes about that incident in, "boom", talking about the '60s. what happened, how it shaped today. lessons for tomorrow. how many presidents have you covered? >> guest: i always say the first campaign i really covered was lyndon johnson but i covered in the minor leagues out in the midwest but in fact, when it comes to presidents i had several encounters with dwight eisen hour. i kind of forgot about that. he came to omaha and campaigned for barry gold water, for example, in '64. when ronald reagan got elected he went down to see dwight eisenhower in the desert, palm desert. and at the time we knew that
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richard nixon wanted to run again in '68 and reagan was the new star on the west and there was rumors about him maybe running. so rage again went down just to spend some time with dwight eisenhower. as the limousine pulled out of the country club where they were the press scrum surrounded them and out of the car popped ronald reagan and dwight eisenhower. reagan, when you look back on it now you can see how the country gravitated to him, first in california. he was so handsome and so in command of who he was. and there was ike. and i had grown up during world war ii. he was the biggest hero of my young lifetime, the man who commanded american forces, became two-term president of the united states and the for some reason the los angeles press corps was paralyzed in place. so i stepped forward and i began asking questions of what i called, general eisenhower. i didn't call him the president because, to me had always been a general.
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we had really good exchange. and in which he said he wanted reagan to run as a favorite son in six at this it. -- '68. you thought that with be good for the party around good for the country. that was in his own way a shot at rich richard nixon. >> guest: boom, you write, one minute ike and man in gray flannel suit in the lonely crowd and next minute, tune on, tune in, drop out, time for we shall overcome and burn baby burn. while americans were walking on the moon, americans were dying in vietnam. there were assassinations and riots. jackie kennedy became jackie o. ty e-die shirts rpt martin luther king, jr. george wallace, tom hayden and. mick jagger and wayne newton. well you get the idea, boom. >> guest: i don't want to overstate this seldom in our
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recent history at least has there been such a fast hand forward to the a new reality as we went from the end of the eisenhower years and beginning of the kennedy years which were traditional but it was a new generation. it was entirely different kind of generation. jack kennedy didn't wear a hat and he didn't wear button-down shirts and he had the very stylish, 34-year-old first lady of the united states surrounded by all these dashing people and then that came to an end. and the war began to heat up and suddenly the country seemed, seemed to come unhinged in a way. all the values of the world war ii generation come home with challenged within their own families. institutions of government, place of government in our lives. the idea of loyaltity and patriotism all went out the window. civil rights movement went from nonviolent movement led by dr. king depending on rule of law, it went to the streets. you know, violence in
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america is as as american as cherry pie. so it was a, it was a head-snapping time. there was no question about it and the fact that we emerged from it and reasonably good shape is still fairly astonishing to me. it is a real tribute to the tense aisle strength of this country in a lot of ways. >> host: i began my marriage, tom brokaw writes and my career as journalist in 1962, a straight arrow product of the 1960s. by the time decade was over i had my first taste of the marijuana, i had long hair and weekends i wore bellbottom toms and peasant shirts and as a family we went to hippie festivals in north l.a. meredith and i were raising our children essentially as we had been raised by our great depression and world war ii parents in the midwest. >> guest: we went on to raise our children in new york. our very close friend bud was raising his children sultly in greenwich village
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and the two families were very close. bud always had the time we were adopted. look at his kids from time to time, all appearances to the contrary you're being raised in kansas city. i think we tried to retain values which we had been raised, manner which we had been raised our kids would go back to south philly spend time with parents every year. we sent them to camp in minnesota we want wanted them to have some appreciation from culture which they came. it was, it was a head di time. steve roberts and coke which roberts were very close friends of ours and they were doing the same thing we were. they were raising their children in traditional fashion but we often talked that on weekends you would kind of put on costumes and be if not part-time hippies you could skirt around the edge of what was appeared to be a kind of liberation movement of some kind. wasn't true for everyone obviously. there was silent majority. there were a lot of people, like ron ziegler and, and
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haldeman, for example, and dwight chapin. they came out of usc. they were still the straight arrow kind of country club set. so there were lots of cultures in play in california in those days but on monday morning i had to get up and put on shirt and tie and jacket and go off to pursue my career as a journalist. >> host: are there parallels to be drawn from the '60s to today? >> guest: i think that there are some parallels. the separation between the values of the parents and many of their children were not nearly as, are not nearly as great today as they were then. i had this kind of mythical family i described. i say, imagine somebody who joined the marine corps at age of 18 at 1 1941. fought across the pacific. came home. married his high school sweetheart. got to good job in detroit. cute with the wave of prosperity with working class families at that time. had a little fishing cabin
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in the upper peninsula. one day he came home at old marine and sitting at table was his daughter, not wearing a brassiere and having hair under her arms and leg hair and with a guy that she identified only as zeke, who had sunglasses on, greasy hair and a guitar and said daddy we'll move in together. we aren't getting married because no one does that anymore. he is looking to his son for some reinforcement. his son has got united states flag swastika over it and son says i'm going to canada. i'm not going to fight. this is somebody else's war. if when he turns around to get help from his wife she is standing at kitchen stove saying to him, okay, big guy, how come i'm only one in this house that does the dishes and fixes meals anymore? that is what was going on. it was kind of 180 from how a lot of that generation had been raised to what they were experiencing in the their own families. >> host: one more quote from
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"boom". as a reporter i was fascinated by what was happen but was not tempted to dive into that pool. my ambitions were counter to the counter culture. when i let my hair grow long and abandon straight arrow wardrobe on weekends i always felt i was in a costume just playing a role. >> guest: it was intriguing. you could do things that you never expected to do. i mean, for example, some experimentation on weekends with marijuana. that was when i was being raised that was the devil weed. there were these kinds of horror films about what one hit on a marijuana weed would do to you but it was so prevalent, so part of the california social scene, even among the old hollywood crowd for example. there were reports that some of the grand dames of hollywood were kind of taken with marijuana. i didn't handle it very well. i didn't get addicted to it. i got out of it after a couple experiments with it. that is as much as i wanted to try but i was interested in doing it.
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i think there were lots of people that shared my view of that. then you move on with your life. you know, you kind of circle back and say, what's the long haul here? what are we going to do? >> host: who is red brokaw? >> guest: my father was a working-class kid. he was very, he had a very troubled childhood. he came from a large, hard scrabble family. they ran a little railroading hotel in bristol, south dakota in the north prairie. conditions were very harsh. dad was last of 10 children. his mother died when he was about eight. his dad was kind of a ne'r-do-well in town. by the time he was 10 he was effectively turned out and left to his own devices. he was taken in by a swedish homesteader, oscar johnson. you look back on it, technically he was guilty of violating every child labor law that ever been imagined but he gave my dad a life. learned how the to drive a team of horses.
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deliver coal, drew wells. he also learned that he had a extraordinarily defined skill for operating heavy equipment. construction crew came through town one day. wanted to use his team of horses of the he said i will let you use them teach me how to operate that. a big caterpillar. for rest of his life he made a very bad living as -- good living as a man master of anything that was mechanical. >> guest: . >> host: who is your mother? >> guest: my mother jean was something entirely different than that she grew up in a bookish, irish-american family out on hard scrabble farm south of bristol. they had little prosperity during the '20s and then the depression came and they lost everything. mother went to a one-room school and she, to the day that she died a couple months ago was one of the most intuitivelily bright people i had ever known. she wanted to go to college and become a journalist. she was 16 when she graduated from high school. college costs $100 a year.
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completely out of reach. so she went to work for a dollar a day. my father, and this is always most unlikely thing, here's my motorcycle-riding, red-haired father, no education whatsoever but he spotted my mother and she spotted him and between the two of them they became more than the sum of their parts, the big muscular guy with a great sense of humor, my mother who was not athletic at all but was bookish and in our family was the centrifuge for civility and goodmanners they put together a working class life and managed to save out of every paycheck x-amount of money. they decided that at the end of the first year they would try to have $1,000 in the bank, a veritable fortune in those days. lived in two-wheel trailers and rooming houses as they chased across the midwest. then they had me in 1940. and we moved to an army base. we had two other brothers in succession. mother held us all together.
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three rough neck boys, hard-hat father, and my dad because he had been raised in part by his sisters, had an enormous regard for my mother and for place of women in his life. i grew up with this consciousness before a lot of young men my age did and my mother made me learn to sow on a button, iron my own shirts, iron my own pants and make dinner if necessary if no one else was at home. that was just part of the deal. >> host: how did you end up in yankton, south dakota? >> guest: well after the war my dad wanted to go to texas and to the oil patch and chase dirt as he called it. he was so good at getting good construction jobs. and mother thought it would take us out of our comfort zone in south dakota and she knew that they were building big dams on the missouri river and there would be good jobs and government benefits. this is the era of great public works projects. the interstate highways were being built. big dams were being built and so we moved to the
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middle the state to very forewarned part the south dakota. part of an indian reservation. and i remember standing there my dad saying to me they will build the biggest dam in the world across the missouri river right here. within two years 3,000 people living in shake and bake town. like army base. course of engineers came in and built the town. we lived half a year, little more than that in two bedrooms of small town nearby. there was no housing but it was very exciting. it was farm life and i still have friends from that time. then we moved to the town and when i look back on it my wife is call ad brigaoon if was in a way brigadoon working class families came into the town had good government housing trailers and good jobs and good wages and dam was being built 24/7 over a period of about eight years. it was a massive either dam
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and came from california and oklahoma and mississippi, iowa and minnesota and they would be gone after nine months because their phase of the work had been completed. then a new group would move in. so it was very exciting place to live. we had state-of-the-art movie house, a great high school. extremely elegant kind of layout of a town with traffic circle and curb and gutter and people thought that they died and gone to heaven because they were not that many years out of the great depression and out of serving on the front lines in europe and the south pacific. they still, the town is no longer really there but my old classmates still have regular reunions there. they will put in a little museum. people would come from all over south dakota just to drive through the town to see because it had popped up overnight and then in 1955 it came to an end and my mother and dad came to me at boy scout camp where i was working at counselor in minnesota said we're moving to yankton which was down the river. another dam had been put in
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there and that's how we moved to yankton. >> host: from a long way growing up in the american heartland, tom brokaw writes as a young, white male in the '50s i was a member of ruling class. however inadequate my qualifications or uncertain my prospects it was a white man he is and white boy's world. >> guest: it was indeed. i was talking with someone yesterday in very successful new york executive and he said, what are you going to write about our generation the luckiest generation? and i said, we happened to be the kings of that generation because we were white males. it was a white male-dominated world in those days. when i graduated from college in the early 1960s, after what can be euphemisticly dibed as a stutter start. i kind of went off the rails for a couple of years but when i graduated from college everyone that i knew was getting a job, whatever their college record happened to be. it was the era of still big corporations. friends of mind went to work for ibm for example or for xerox or for john deere.
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they got jobs or if they went to law school there was a law practice for them to join and it was all affordable. so it was a time when white males in america had a clear field before them unparalleled opportunities and i'm always conscious of that. >> host: from a long way from home, chapter 11, failure is an option. if i were equipped with one of the black boxes so useful determining what went wrong in an airplane crash i might be able to cite a moment or incident when my life, my personal flight plan suddenly veered off course and careened along a dangerous trajectory more than two years. sometime in my senior year in high school when i turned 18 i began to steady descent in pattern of self-deception, conceit and irresponsibility. >> guest: it was a time that i still to this day can not completely understand where my compass went awry.
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up until then i had not been just a goody-two-shoes, i had been as mischievous as most teenagers are. had my share of good times i suppose but i always managed to accomplish things academically and socially politically. by the time i got to be a senior i think i began to take that foregranted. i think i was on autopilot. it would come my day whatever i did. i also suspect i was little bored. my mother talked about it little later and you had always done anything the right way and we had maybe too much confidence. when you began to go of the rails and we should have put the brakes on you a lot harder than we did. it took me a couple years. he actually dropped out of school at one point. i was wandering around the landscape in a way a lot of my friends were puzzled. they were extremely disappointed. the woman who have been married for 50 years now, meredith, played a pivotal
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role getting me out of it. i was interested in her, so i thought she would be interested in me. she wrote me the harshest letter i think i have ever gotten say i don't want to hear from you, don't want you to call. don't want you to show up at the door. you're not going anywhere. >> host: good afternoon, and welcome to "book tv" on c-span2s. this is our monthly, "in depth" problem where we feature author and body of work. this is nbc journalist, tom brokaw and he is author of six books. we begin with the greatest generation from 1998. followed by the greatest generation speaks in 1999 and album of memories, another follow-up to the greatest generation in 2001. a long way from home, his autobiography growing up in south dakota, 2002. boom, talking about the '60s came out in 2007. and finally his most recent book is, the time of our lives, a conversation about
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america. mr. brokaw, what got you to write --. >> guest: what prompted this? >> host: yeah. >> guest: there was a seminal moment, really. it was spring of 2009 and i had gone to the 65th anniversary of the d-day landing. i go back about every five years for those and i went from there to dresden, germany, to meet with the new president of the united states, a young african-american. and i went through berlin on the way. i had been in berlin the night the wall came down. i had the experience being only correspondent there with live capacity and reporting it. still one of the memorable moments of my professional career. i got to dresden and i was interviewing the president and i said to him, i've just been at berlin. i was there the night the wall came down. he said i remember i was in law school at the time. he was in law school? it seems like it was yesterday. i had breakfast with ellie
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brezel he was taking the president to talk call with angela merkel the new german chancellor. shy was living in the west as laboratory technician. now shy is the first woman chancellor of germany. my mind was reeling by the time i left there and i went to the coast of turkey, the south coast of turkey to join some friends on a cruise who are all contemporaries of my time and began to talk about all we've been witness to and seismic changes in our life and how quickly they have become and now seem to becoming at even faster pace. then i thought what was our legacy? i written about the greatest generation. what about the boomers and couple of years behind them. what do we leave behind? a lot of us are grandparents and littles to the and some are teenagers and how bright they are and how eager they are and what will they say to us 40 years from now in a matter of speaking?
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what will historians say about our unparalleled opportunities that we had, the kind of alloyed chance to have a big impact on the world and did we take full advantage of it? that's when i began to write "the time of our lives". i looked for examples of people doing write things and there are many of them. i see this big shift in america to more public/private enterprise to address a lot of issues that we're talking about. and then i thought, we need to have some big ideas in play. i think that politics is really become about small ball and it ought to be much more about big ideas. >> host: 202 area code if you like to participate in our program with tom brokaw. 202-737-0002 for those of you in the mountain and pacific. also contact us electronically. send and e-mail to booktv@cspan.org or make a
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comment on twitter. twitter.com/booktv. mr. brokaw you call for some information conversations. one of those national conversations you call for one on technology and you write, you can not reverse global warming by striking back space. nuclear proliferation, political and religious imperialism and natural disasters won't disappear when you hit delete. it will do us little good to wire the world if we short-circuit our souls. >> guest: i tried to have a conversation with college groups. i do commencements every year for two reasons. one is, i want to know what i think and writing a commencement speech forces to you evaluate where you are and what it is that you think and what it is that you want to say to a new generation. and because this new technology which is so exciting and so transformative and having such a positive impact in so many areas is the, it's
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oxygen to this new generation. they have grown up with it. it is the first generation teaching their parents to drive when it comes to a new technology and i just am trying to get them to think beyond the social uses of it. a very perceptive stanford law senior said to me when i was doing work in silicon valley two years ago, mr. brokaw, you have written a lot about generation the. what about my generation and the definition of friend? friend has now become a verb. i have friended somebody on facebook. he said are we losing real meaning of friend? i thought that was, i thought that was an insightful question and one worth exploring. we have not had much dialogue in the country about the best use of this technology. that is a subject of judgment and or even about what are the other uses we ought to be thinking about from a political and cultural point of view and
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try to get a dialogue going between generations. there are more people my age now using this. i think it is going up pretty quickly because the ease of use made it possible. the ipad is clear demonstration of how you can have a portable rolodex, newspaper, magazine, library of books and still get your e-mail on a very handsome screen. you've got one right there. so we ought to then be thinking about, okay, we know what the instrumentation is. how do we have that add to the quality of our lives beyond our own selfish needs? >> host: where did you come up with the term, the greatest generation? >> guest: you know it came, i've gone back and traced i think to the moment that it came up. i went to the 40th anniversary of d-day and that's when the thought began to take hold in my mind and my consciousness and 10 years later i was at 50th anniversary. by then i collected a lot of
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stories and thinking about it a lot more. i was going to be on with katie couric the next morning on "the today show" and with tim on "meet the press." so the night before i was reviewing in my own mind what i might say and i thought about the history, the short and the long history of that generation. short history being that they came of age in the great depression during sacrifice, deprivation, common cause and then they were asked to go fight the greatest war in the history of manned kind against the two most powerful military machines that had ever been assembled and prevailed and came home and gave us lives on the day. i said that to katie on the air. i said it is greatest generation every society ever produced and repeated it on "meet the press." stephen ambrose, the historian was there at time. we didn't know each other as well. came over and pounded me on the back. that is the phrase, if you don't write that, i will. it took me a while longer but i stuck with it.
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i used it in commencement addresses and civic lectures. and then people began to say, including my editor, some members of my family, maybe i'm going too far. my ultimate line was, that's my story and i'm sticking to it. it is now part of the language and it has nothing to do with the fact that i coined phrase. it has everything to do with people taking a look at that generation and realizing how many achievements of, they were able to get on the board and improve our lives. wasn't a perfect generation because members of that generation also resisted the civil rights movement, for example. or launched the vietnam war but taken as a whole with the rise of women and participation of all the parts of that generation including african-americans, i think it is the greatest generation. >> host: two questions. how did you find all these people, such as margaret ringerberg? that is one question. >> guest: my editor had a
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wonderful, wonderful idea and she said when i went to them and what i would like to do, she said to give it structure let's make it the american family. we'll think of it as a big family reunion and have a lot of different parts to it. that also would mean bringing in women who were unusual in what they did. and then gratefully i found through some friends one of the greatest researchers any author could ever have in a women by the name of elizabeth boyer who defered going to law school for a year so she could help me with the book. she quickly became absorbed in the idea of it. so i could say to her, a woman who had been in combat, we have to find a woman, nurse who had been in combat. bingo, she would come up with that. we didn't know about the wasps which is what margaret had been a part of when we launched book. then we quickly found out women auxiliary service pilots who were tomboys really, many of them who learned to fly in farm
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country and small towns in america, were highered by the government, to go down and replace the pilots who were being shipped overseas for combat duty so they could ferry airplanes and so, that they could haul targets and get shot at themselves because not all these guys were so good with aerial gunnery. margaret was one of them. she learned to fly at early age. she was from indiana, from fort wayne and you had been familiar with her. then she went on after the war to become internationally known for flying small airplanes in long distance and speed races. when the wasps got sent home by the government because they were able to fulfill the quota with men they were not given any recognition for their service. no benefits whatsoever. it was an outrage. a couple of them had been killed and after the war they got together and a number of them they began to petition the government for recognition and for veterans benefits.
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two years ago i was on capitol hill when the congressional leadership was one of the few took place in which you saw on the same stage, nancy pelosi and john boehner, and mitch mcconnell and senator reid together in a common cause and these wasps had come back. many of them in their uniform to get the congressional medal in the new visitor center there i gotten to know a lot of them over there they were as feisty as ever. and several of them still fit into the uniforms. when i wrote about margaret i went out and flew in a plane with her and she gave me some lessons in the air. >> host: that is first time you had ever flown a plane? >> guest: no i actually had my -- she figured that right away. you have done this before. she was a great lady. she got back to fort wayne as you know and the day that the war ended she had leaflets in her airplane. she flew over fort wayne and dumped them out and said, germany surrenders.
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so it was amazing time. >> host: one more question before we go to calls, when people run into you do they reference the greatest generation more than nbc or vice versa? >> guest: a combination of the two but consistently "the greatest generation". i wrote the greatest generation in 1998. my line in this is, this is not faux anchorman humility but is true. what i really did was open the door. as ken burns said later, when he did his pbs series on the war, you gave them permission to talk. every day i go two or three times a week in an airport or on a college campus or in some civic gathering or walking down the street, either a baby boomer will come up with tears in or her especially her eyes. i didn't understand my dad until i read your book. or, somebody will come up and say, i kind of written my life story about my days
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in the war. you know, how do i get it published because i didn't do that before you wrote that book? what i say to them is, that you know, published it for your family. go to kinkos get it bound and distributed and then a lot of people will come and say i can't get my dad to tell the stories to me. get your grandson to go sit with your father with a tape recorder, record all memoirs and distribute it to the family. so, i suppose, pride is not the right word but just so satisfying and gratifying to know that i've had some small role in connecting these generations to remember, the great, great work done by so many members of that generation, the sacrifices that they made, we would be a much different place today if it had not been for them. >> host: this is "book tv" on c-span2. tom brokaw is our "in depth" guest. martha's vineyard, massachusetts. barbara, you're on the air. good afternoon. >> caller: hi, thank you.
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mr. brokaw, thank you so much for your incredibly wonderful career and in particular for the tone of your reporting and yourself expression. it is much valued in these age of hyper politics. i'm calling to say that since i'm 64 years old. my father died at age 78. greatest generation, world war ii. oss person in london and, and i came up with a appellation for the boomers to follow on your greatest generation. and it's not luckiest although means the same thing and it is called, grateful generation. and i can speak for myself and a lot of my other boomer colleagues. i believe in saying that we are immensely grateful for all dads we have been given by our extraordinary greatest generation parents and their immigrant, their
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immigrant parents before them. and i think we got a bad rap back in the self-involved and navel gazing et cetera and there is reasons to explain some of that stuff but in general i think we realizely used -- really used incredible opportunities for country and future. >> host: barbara, we'll leave it there. the mr. brokaw? >> guest: yeah. listen, i think the that is a great phrase, the grateful generation and i don't want to short-change the baby boomer generation. the baby boomer generation did, go to the south and march with their fellow citizens who happened to be african-american and push very hard for the, for the civil rights act and change. there has been no greater social change in america in my lifetime than that. the rise of women in every aspect of american life. there is greater tolerance i think socially, ethnically
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across the board in this country. when i was coming of age, when i said i came out of college in '62, to get a job, the idea would be you stand in line to get a job. you would be slotted into a big corporation or in my case into the network. now at age 22 or even younger than that you can be very entrepreneural. you can break the old rules and baby boomer generation helped do that. some of them when i talk to them have acknowledged that, that, they took their eye off the ball. they, they have forced the country to think much more deeply about how we go to war and what the consequences of that are. and then, somewhere along the line, they lost their passion for that issue and we went to war on very much the same way in iran -- iraq and afghanistan but now we do it with less than 1% of the population and boomers who began their political
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lives by demonstrating against the war have not, they have kind of been absent without leave, if you will during the course of any debate about these wars. >> host: from "boom", tom brokaw writes, environment, steady gains for african-americans and other minorities as a result of the civil rights movement, ever-expanding opportunities for women in the economy, the entrepreneural spirit of the young, the freedom to step out of the closet, chance to escape a world of button-down collars and panty gird dills all of that came from the '60s. to follow up on that caller, from daniel. my father and his friends tell me our generation messed things up. what are the baby boomers most significant errors and how do you hope the next generation is different? >> guest: i think that their most significant errors were the errors of self-indulgence. there was a, you know, look, i wasn't a member of the
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boomers in terms of demographics but i was along for the ride as well. we've got big issues facing us now. there is a lot of discussion as there should be about entitlement programs. we're going to be the biggest bulge coming into the american entitlement programs since they were created. then we have to ask ourselves, do we all deserve the same levels of support? couldn't we, for example, on social security advance retirement age or make a choice about advancing it? if you have been fortunate enough to, or earn x-amount of money in american life and have net worth, then maybe we ought to be thinking about means testing medicare. we can't say to our grandchildren, okay, i've done something for you. you're going to really carry me through the last days of my life. these are kinds of discussions that are real that we ought to be having and in fact we're not having. >> host: jay, asheville, north carolina, good afternoon.
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>> caller: yes, thanks for taking my call. it's real pleasure to speak with you sir. i have short comment and a question. we have been involved in this afghanistan cesspool now for 10 years. if we had had a military draft, because right now only a miniscule percentage of our population has anything to do with the military. but if we had had a draft, all along, do you not think that our involvement in afghanistan would have ended a long time ago? i mean if a great many mothers and fathers had to face the prospect that their son and or daughter would be over there an be killed or i am maed for essentially nothing, do you not think that the war would have ended a long time ago? >> guest: i'm not sure it would have ended a long time ago but what i do think you've put your finger on
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the essential point that we need to get corrected in this country. in fact less than 1% of the population in uniform, all volunteers. many of them from rural areas. many of them from very working class families, too few of them with any training beyond high school. but that does not relief the rest of us of the obligation to be a citizen and to be aware of what they're going through, nor does it excuse us from taking a very active participation in the debate about when and how we two go to war and how well that war is going. when wars blow up in a hurry, and they often do, then there is this excess really of jingoism, no other way to describe it. we want to back the troops. i get that but at the same time we have to have some distance into a clinical analysis of what the prospects are, motivations are going to war and having accountability along the way. and that's been very uneven in both iraq and in
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afghanistan. there's new book out by texas a&m history professor by the name of terry anderson, talking about decisions made along the way in the bush administration about many so things they should have seen when they didn't work out the way they promised the country they would about how they would kind of redefine what their motivations were. we can use these kinds of books and retrospectives, if you will, to prepare the country for the next debate because we will go to war again. let me just say one other thing if i can. tomorrow in new york i'm going to be part of a national summit on the reintegration of veterans. there are a lot of good programs underway in the private sector and in the public sector as well but they're not as connected as they need to be. so we're going to bring to the same table in new york all day long corporate chieftans, members of congress, other people who are working for ngos and nonprofits to try to establish, if you will, a
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template and have that template become part of the systemic approach to how we have a military and civilian population in america. so in the future, when young people come back from wars, we'll all be more aware of what their needs are. they will be more aware of how they can adapt from a military culture to a civilian culture. no society really done that successfully from the time of the greeks. we did it very well after world war ii because everybody was involved. in this war, 99% of us it doesn't affect our daily lives. no sacrifices have been made. if we don't know someone over there or are not interested we can turn our heads away. that is unjust in a democratic society. >> host: did you serve in the military? >> guest: i did not. i always assumed i would. i grew up in quasi-military environment, national guard, all people around me, my coaches and my high school teachers were ministers and all military people. i wanted to be a navy
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officer. i wanted to run pt boats just like john kennedy. i grew up in a high school or in a college rather that was heavy on the army rotc and i chose not to go into the advanced rotc there because i wanted to be a navy guy. and navy guy was very happy to see me on our campus because you will the low-lying fruit had gone off if you will to the army. i went down to omaha and i passed medal examination. i was going, charging right through the physical part of it. i was counting on getting a commission so i could get married. it was a job and i got to the last station. i had flat feet and i have been athlete and been outdoorsman and navy, i never forget this a man from penn. boy those are flat feet. i said they really are. had them for a long time. he said we can't take you. and recruiter said what? that's not possible. and he said no, we have 4-d grease of flatness and this is four plus. so i went back to my draft
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board to see whether it would have an impact whether or not i would be taken in the army and they had the same conclusion. if they said they would take me i was going to try to get congressional intervending -- intervention to get navy commission really what i wanted to do. two years later vietnam heated up. my brother had same condition and drafted gratefully sent to europe. my youngest brother went to vietnam as a mane rhine and came home -- marine and came home okay. >> host: next call, salt lake city, utah. warren, you're on the air. >> caller: thank you. do you think racial hatred will be a major factor in the upcoming presidential election? >> guest: i think race will always play a part. when race is involved, at some level it will affect how some people judge people, judge candidates, judge business executives, judge entertainers, whatever. we have come a long way in
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race in america but we haven't resolved all the issues. it is almost impossible to measure it because people are seldom truthful about racial feelings but obviously race will be, to some degree a factor. it will also be a factor on the other side. there will be african-americans who will, out of a sense of ethnic pride will say, i'm not entirely crazy about what president obama is doing but he is one of us. he's our guy. and so we have to work our way through that and i would hope that we would have a confidence to talk about that and to keep moving beyond it. i think we are. if you look at television come meshals which is i always think is one of the barometers how america how we see each other, people who do marketing for big corporations or for product lines now have african-american men standing in a yard advising a white guy across the hedge
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on how to prepare for his retirement. that would have been entirely unheard of when i was coming of age. you now see african-american families, for example, as stars of ads. we still have a long ways to go but the perceptions are getting better and better. my own grandchildren are all in integrated classrooms. when i went out for my, time after 7th grade in san francisco to grandparents today i the teacher did a very smart thing. she said, let's talk about the differences between when the grandparents from the 7th grade and these children from the 7th grade. we wrote down a list. all the grandparents wrote down the same thing. we lived in a segregated society. we had to explain to the grandchildren what that meant. segregated societies by the way not just the south but in the industrial north as well. and the grandchildren were startled by that because it was not part of their reality whatsoever. >> host: from a long way
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from home, growing up in the american heartland, tom brokaw writes, when americans first began to seriously confront racial inequities in the '60s, mobilized by eloquence of dr. martin luther king, jr. i naively believed we would cure the cancerous effects of racism in my lifetime. i now know that is not true. race remains a central issue in the evolution of our political, economic and cultural environment. it continues to haunt me personally. >> guest: well i think it does. in so many ways. way as on a panel recently about the of early days of john f. kennedy and some people may remember he was not enthusiastic warrior when it came to the civil rights movement because of the political consequences in the south but he ended up doing the right thing and he had great men at his side like john deorr who went down, he sent the 82nd airborne into mississippi to
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protect the rights of james meredith. we had a panel about that, susan rice, u.n. ambassador was there, and she talked about her children in school in washington still very much aware of what their race is and she said we've not gotten beyond that. i do have hope that generationally it will change but i think it takes the best efforts of all of us to do that and and it's, unique to this country because of the nature of slavery, and the fact that we are an immigrant nation. we have come here from all these other places. we have our own kind of tribal subset in america and we've got to work hard making sure that you can have pride in who you are and where you came from but at the same time not be kind of blindly judgemental on the wrong terms. >> host: in "a long way from home", you have a chapter on race. why do you separate it out? >> guest: i separate it out
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in part because where i grew up we thought of ourselves as white-bread america. we were surrounded by native americans and there was a whole racial component to my upbringing. my, a lot of my close friend when i was a teenager and before that were natams. members of the sioux nation n high school, this went away. went off the reservation and boarding school and did whatever they did. i lost sight of that. i began to at this i was coming of age about place of race in america i was raised in a very racially tolerant household. we moved to omaha, a big racial component of our population. the whole north side was primarily african-american. there were no black black clerks downtown and nobody working at the radio station and television station where i was except the janitor who was person of color. that troubled me. i would raise it. it would set off pretty
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heated arguments. civil rights movement at that point really beginning to reach it apogee. i found a member of the omaha city government who ran parks and recreation. he had an appropriate name. his name was welcome brian. he was really happied and really engaged guy. i called him up and i said i wanted to talk about race in omaha. he said i've been waiting for someone to ask. you won't be happy in my neighborhood. we'll ride around and talk about it. we rode around one night in omaha. if you come to the north side and find out what is going on go to the barber shops or insurance offices. those are the social centers and pretty much male-dominated for example. he said we don't understand in omaha why on the air you're paying so much attention to what is going on in montgomery, alabama, or birmingham. we have the same conditions that exist here. and they're not getting addressed at all. well not too long after that i moved to atlanta and covered the civil rights
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movement. not too long after that, omaha blew up. they had a very, very lethal racial riot going on in that town and a lot of tension. it just exploded there because of the northern ghettos that existed and the north refused to acknowledge that. so it was a big issue in my formative years, race and how we were going to resolve it and deal with it. my dad i always thought was a man who almost intuitivelily, understood what was going on with discrimination because he had been raised with some learning disabilities and tossed out of his household at 10. everybody thought he would end up in jail or be a tough kid at end of his life. he left his oral memoirs and there was whole other side of him we knew about. he was constantly aware of people saying he won't be successful which made him all more determined to
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become that his heroes growing up were jesse owens and joe louis and jackie robinson. he was not a sports fans. he didn't go to ballgames. he didn't do all that but he understood in a way what they had gone through. that people were prejudging them. as a result i grew up in a household which jackie robinson was as close to a deity as you can possibly imagine. we lived and breathed everything that he did. that was highly unusual in those days. >> host: next call for tom brokaw comes from john in trump bell, connecticut. go ahead, john. >> caller: hello, you answered my first question with the story about the flat feet. because i had a worry about the draft. i think i might not have had to worry about the draft if i had had an exam because i think i have flat feet too. but i have another question about social security. and that's, the ceiling at
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$108,000 or so, above which no social security is taken out of pay for the social security trust fund. it's all burdened on the lower, the people below that line. carry the whole burden of social security. now if that ceiling were removed, it would, wouldn't be any problem with social security. what do you think about that? >> guest: i think, i think they will raise the threshold. i think that there will be a more contributions that will have to be made in the future. i don't, i think that people are in the system now get to retire at the present retirement age but that we ought to be thinking about staggering it along the way as well. i know a lot of very conservative people who say, look, i don't need social security. i've been happy to pay into
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it. i would rather have it distributed to others who really could use it. these are the kinds of issues that we're not talking enough about which leads me to something else. i really believe, i said this morning on "meet the press." we're about the to see simpson-bowles come up again. simpson-bowles tried to address deficits and restructuring of entitlement programs in a biparity sawn way and commission was big miss in the president's part not putting it right on the table right away. we'll hear much more in coming months because a place everybody can begin. al simpson was on obviously certified republican, erskine bowles same on democratic side. commissioner membership had been evenly distributed. that gives us a place to begin the discussion about entitlements and trying to get deficit reduction back into the appropriate proportion when it comes to the gdp. >> host: from the time of our lives, tom brokaw writes, it is time to find a
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framework for national service that goes beyond a military uniform and provides a long-term benefit for the country. it is fundamentally unfair to expect a small percentage of our population drawn largely from the middle and working class rapport to carry the burden and pay the price of fighting wars that are always initiated in the national interest, however credible or contrived the threat. >> guest: look, it's my hail mary in this book. i'm proposing a, what i think is a big idea and i have no illusions about how easy it will be to get it done. and it grew really out of my experience being embedded on short-term basis with troops in afghanistan and in iraq but especially in afghanistan. i was with the 10th mountain division and with special forces and we would go into these villages after these guys in really remote bases spent night fighting bad guys, going off on long range patrols and coming back. now they go into the villages and villages are
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understandably worried because come in humvees and kevlar vests and goggles and helmets and lock and loaded weapons. they have to shake down the village before they can do the patrol. make sure all they go through all the vehicles to make sure we they don't have contraband weapons and they go to the village he willers and say we're here to help. the village elders don't quite see it that way. this is country invaded so many times over 2,000 years. they're skeptical of anyone from the outside. one of the villages when i was north of kandahar with the special forces i asked him what he thought. he said i don't think we need anymore men with guns telling me what to do. i thought how could we change that equation? i began to think about diplomatic special forces highly trained, adventerous young men and women who could do that piece of what they call soft power. winning hearts and minds you could put in satellite dishes and have portable generators and download
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carpentry and language skills and fundamentals of good health and newt tricks. then i took, went from there and i thought, why don't we have six public service academies in nerc attached to land grant schools and have a number of disciplines and when i raised this with some friends of mine, one of the people in our company that night was very conservative texan, very successful man and he said, tom, make it public/private. get the private sector involved. so what i proposed in the book, six public service academies attached to land grant schools across the country, pick the discipline, say medicine broadly speaking, postgraduate work for physicians but nurse practitioners and technicians and they become, say, johnson & johnson fellows or siemens fellows or ge because which have big health care systems at ge, ge fellows and you share the cost of the training and then they go off from that
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public service academy after a three-year training program they're assigned domestically or internationally and they have three to four years out there and they get to come home to the home office and have two years to prove themselves up. seems to me it is a win-win. it gives young people who want to serve you but not in military uniform a chance to do something for their country and simultaneously develop new skillset that will be advantageous to them long-term. it also gives the private sector a chance to develop a workforce, if you will, that has spread out around the world. knows the culture and politics and language and knows how to get the job done there. and they get to share that cost with the government i think it would lift this country and, tie it together in a way that there's a great longing to have happen now . .
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as i describe it, most folks are happy, not only do they have a bias, they have no money for a couple of years. but viruses are not good enough. they want to get rid of that as well. they have been told that recovery is here, and that we have had a backslide or have been slow in a recovery. we are all hostage, not to just what goes on here in this country, but what goes on
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internationally lizmac the picture on the front of the book come with the taken on your ranch in montana on the front of your book? >> yes, it is in montana. we are very spoiled out there. we are in a valley where we don't get a lot of traffic. i would say it is in south-central montana. you can show that. it is north of yellowstone park about 40 miles on the edge. you will risk having a lot of fun getting to where we are. >> host: how much time he's been in montana? >> debtsmac my wife has been spending long summers there. in the last two years i have been able to it saddled -- we ct
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get satellite. then we wanted to get broadband. and we have gotten broadband through a satellite as well. so i can function pretty well there i wrote "the time of our lives" out there and also "boom!." it is parked by the river. it's a great way of life. i think in "the time of our lives" you write to your that your entire ranch is 1100 square feet? >> guest: that's right. period it might be that big. the ranch is big. >> host: the ranch house as a reminder of how i lived when i was a kid. it is all that we need. we have a good kitchen and the living room and an area that looks the river. we have a spare bedroom in a bedroom upstairs. when i think back about where the five of us lived, and houses
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there were 800 square feet, we went in this country from having square footage and an average house of about 1400 square feet going to 2500 square feet. you had entire neighborhoods with three big garages and living rooms and both parents working trying to keep up the mortgage. that is part of the reason that we got in trouble. >> host: we have an e-mail. brian in north dakota. he was drafted and spent two years in the marine corps. i'm news director of northern news network. we cover montana, including your ranch. my question is, what will the. [inaudible] due to montana? >> guest: that is the shale. there is debate and anxiety and a lot of enthusiasm for whether it reaches far enough in montana for to be productive. we don't know.
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it doesn't reach to exactly where we are. my wife had some property. there are rigs all over that part of montana. energy companies dropping letters in mailboxes and we will give you $10,000 cash for energy and rights to your ranch. what is going on in north dakota is not getting enough attention in my judgment. it is a real boom. the california 40 niner boom -- it is by and large, generating a lot of money. but also a lot of social problems as well. elderly people cannot afford to live in their areas anymore because the workers are moving about to some of the smaller towns. they don't have medical and social services that they need. north dakota is doing the best that they can to come to grips
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with all these issues. but it is a very big deal. >> host: bill in mobile, alabama, you are on the air on booktv on c-span 2 at tom brokaw. >> caller: thank you very much. political question with three parts. have you ever seen in your view of history a president like george w. bush, telling the american people when he's were selected that we inherited too much money from the previous administration, we're going to give it back to the people in tax cuts, and then lower the rates for the wealthy. number one. number two. have you ever seen a character like grover norquist who coerces republican legislators to promise not to pass -- to tax the american people, because if they don't come it will and they will make sure that they are not reelected. and don't you think that george h. abby bush had integrity, he said read my lips, no new taxes.
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he didn't come director his own jeopardy of being reelected. thank you very much. >> guest: grover norquist is absolutely entitled to pursue what he believes to be the best interest of the country. i do feel very strongly that we are entitled to have representatives as the senators have the courage to stand up what they believe in. not what an outside force so that you have to do this and sign the pledge. because they are elected to represent the fabric of their constituency. grover norquist has the ability to unleash, and i mean this metaphorically, apolitical jihad who doesn't go along with his view of the world. you can organize an internet blogging campaign very quickly against people who exist with
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the special interests. grover norquist has been at this for some time and continues to defend his place in the political firmament of the city in the nation. that is his right, as a citizen. but just because he has that right doesn't mean that everyone has to follow him. president bush 43 come in the tax cut -- that is something that is hotly debated in the fall about whether or not it is extended i do think there was a missed chance for that president is the one we went to war, there were no sacrifices whatsoever. in fact, people did get a big tax cut. i was one of them. i think it would've been better for us to have been asked to contribute more to what turned out to be a gross and account untrimmed miscalculation of the ultimate costs of a war would
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be. his father paid a big price for saying read my lips, no new taxes, and then he did have to deal with the deficit when they have an economic downturn in his first administration. this will all play out in the fall, and i think we should have a big debate on it. >> host: tom brokaw is the author of six books beginning with "the greatest generation" in 1998, follow-up with "the greatest generation speaks" letters and reflections, and transport came out in 2001. "a long way from home" is an autobiography about growing up in south dakota, talking about the 60s, "boom!", and "the time of our lives" came out in 2011. are you writing another book currently? >> guest: i haven't settled on anything. i'm still talking about "the time of our lives." it seems to me that what i have written, tom friedman and bill
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bradley have written are the kinds of books that i would hope to get some attention because what we are trying to do is put on the table some issues that we think needs some attention. and to be provocative in a way about where the country should be going throughout this campaign. >> host: kansas city missouri e-mail. could you please describe the press conference you attended that preceded the fall of the berlin wall in germany? >> guest: it was one of those great happenstance is in my life. i have to give full credit to one of my colleagues, it an editor of nbc news. on monday morning, he said to me, there is a lot going on in germany and not much going on here. why don't you go to germany? and i thought, that's a pretty good notion. when you leave "nbc nightly news", a lot of wheels go into
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motion. i said let me think about it. i went to lunch. i haven't run into my old friend dick holbrook, richard holbrook, well-known ambassador in this town. mad hatter, very keen new sense as well. until them i'm thinking about going to germany. he said, that is a great idea. something's going on over there. we had no idea the walls were to come down. so i took off. we had very enterprising bureaus, thankfully in those days, and also a team out there ahead of me. one of them made arrangements for me to interview propaganda cheap for east germany on a wednesday night. are they to say i was operating out of the eastern sector. that was pretty unique. what was happening in those days is that ger was sending people outside to the normal northern borders near czechoslovakia. they were not letting people
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comment. the checks were not happy about that. there was a fair amount of chaos going on. at the end of tuesday, we put on an interesting program. this situation is very interesting here. gorbachev was remaining neutral. he wasn't sending tanks or russian signals or even anonymous signals. on wednesday i went out to work again. late in the afternoon i went to a news conference. with the propaganda cheap in the east. it was a hot and crowded room. for this first time, east german journalists, who had been controlled by the state come up felt unleashed. and they are asking very tough questions of source data. he was dismissing of them. someone handed him a piece of paper and he read it, all citizens of the ger, based on
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the decision of the bureau, can now leave and return into the ger to any of the portals and the berlin wall. and i was in a room filled with people covering germany for a long time, including my camera crew, i had two people that have done that. and we all looked at each other like there had been a signal from venus. we didn't expect to hear that. he folds the paper and walks off the stage. there was chaos in the room. the ap was going for the phones. it was like a scene out of a movie. i went upstairs because i had this prearranged appointment with him. and i said, would you take that paper out of your pocket and read it for me again on camera so that we can talk about what it really means? and he said i would be happy to. he read it. i said that means that any citizens of your country can come and go to the berlin wall, including into germany -- west
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germany. he said yes, and that's what it means. and i ran downstairs to my american colleagues, and i said it's over. i think the wall is coming down. by the time i got to that area, the guard who had been typical with us gave me a way to go through. i stopped him and said have you just heard what was announced? and he said no. and i said well, what you think? and she looked at me and said through the translator, i'm not prepared, i'm not paid to think. you can go now. i got back to the office, alerted everybody of what was going on. we did bulletins back here. now we are preparing for a midnight broadcast from the brandenburg gate, and one of my colleagues came in, operating and thinking it was chaos, she said there was a huge crowd at the brandenburg gate where you're going to be broadcasting.
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i had to get security to get clearance to go there -- and that's what it was about. at the time i got out there, there was this enormous crowd, mostly from the west. and i went with cheryl gold, who is my producer in new york, said you're going to stay with me. there is no way we can do this on a scripted basis. i want to ad lib. as much as i can. at the last moment, i had an outdoor jacket on from l.l. bean that i would wear when i would go on these quick tips. and it was not as handsome as i thought it should be for a videotape. so when my colleagues had a very good-looking topcoat on, and that's what you see in the video tape. i made him give me his topcoat. the last call for tom brokaw comes from montgomery, alabama. >> caller: mr. brokaw. a pleasure to speak with you today. i'm looking forward to hearing you speak at the conference next month in atlanta.
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just to reflect, my dad passed away when i was six years -- i was 28 at the time. he was named to the all-state football team in 1942. he listed in the marines and fought with the. [inaudible] when i read the greatest generation 14 years ago, and what you did, you reset my baseline. you helped me live my day-to-day challenges from working out issues in the workplace to this day, i sold back with situations that are arise, and ask what that would've done what it is a young man serving in the south pacific. i commend you with your book and i'm looking forward to your next one. it is a pleasure again, sir.
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>> guest: thank you so much. those are the kinds of calls that have so much meaning for me. i get emotional. i went out to ohio state with john glenn, and i finished my lecture at the john glenn policy center. a man stood up and saluted both of us in his vfw cap and i lost it. there are lessons that continue to give us hope, and they are, if you will, markers for us, the manner in which you should lead our lives. >> host: from your follow-up, an album of memories, "an album of memories", these are letters that people wrote to you from "the greatest generation." i'm going to read you just a little bit of one. dear mr. brokaw, i was born in 1929 in düsseldorf germany. i would like to try to give you a perspective on life in germany during those years. etc. he talks about me being a member of the hitler youth.
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and his retirement spent in florida. >> guest: i don't frankly fully come to grips with how world war ii royal the world. john keegan said it is the greatest single event in the history of mankind. from outside the areas of faith, because christians will say the birth of jesus was the greatest single event, and the place of moses or the place of the koran. when it comes to a momentary political development, there has been nothing like world war ii where it involves so many people. the stories continue to come. there are some recent stories, books, for example, written about what it was like for americans to be in germany leading up to world war ii, the garden of garden of the beast by erik larson. there is another book called hitler land.
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i can't get enough of them. i am utterly fascinated. i think one of the greatest books of the 20th century was the rise and fall by william shire. he was writing it on real-time as he was there. you think about what was there. by the time we got involved in the war, germany had already dominated poland. they were beginning to take on russia at that point. they slept through most of central europe and into france, and hitler had no rest and ambition than to occupy this country. thank goodness for britain, they hung on. i'm preparing an essay about what it was like in britain in 1941 and there's another book written about the american ambassador and how they were so
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helpful to winston churchill. we went back and tried to re-create the climate that existed then. it is so evocative to stand in this extraordinarily modern city of wonder. and also to remember that during the firebombing, the hundred thousand people were killed, and the model was keep going, carry on. and they would walk through the streets to the shelters when there was a bombing raid. and it was that that the author would record in the background of all that, which was winston churchill and his radio messages. i went back and found many people who remember that, and they said every night we waited to hear from the prime minister to hear what he had to say. as john f. kennedy said, he mobilize the english language into a fighting force. he made it possible for us to get involved in the war and to
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have a launching pad in great britain for normandy, eventually. >> host: josten, succulent. which one of your books is the best from the a literary analysis? story aside, the best writing. >> guest: i think the last book is. i wrote "the greatest generation" in a hurry. it was done in less than a year. i've often thought, gee, i'd like to have one more pass at it, frankly. in part because there are people who emerged that we didn't know about that i would like to have included or not. that is part of the reason that i came up with the idea for "the greatest generation speaks" letters and reflections, so that we can could give more weight to what was going on. it's interesting. i grew up as a broadcaster primarily.
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in broadcast journalism, we write differently than you do for the print. we really right to complement imagery, and it is more conversational. and it tends to be shorter. books are long. i was have to shift gears from writing short to writing long. now, number of my friends have said to me that i can hear your voice and all of your books. it is how you talk. i've written a lot of magazine essays and articles. writing a book is a different proposition altogether. next call. >> host: scott, you're on the air. >> caller: good afternoon, gentlemen. tom, my name is scott, about four years ago, you were good enough let me interview you for a piece i did for a magazine called [inaudible name]. and i interviewed you and david roper and ben bradlee. you, to your credit, were the only person from nbc who led me
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to engage with you about this issue. in the article, i made the point that although "meet the press" was developed and started by a woman in 1947, it has been on for 65 years, there have been 10 permanent hosts, all of them white males. i made the point of view this is before david gregory was picking you are the interim post, i said why can't you say publicly that there has been enough desegregation here. they are brilliant black journalists black journalists who have been turned on for years, why can't we say the next journalist doesn't have to be a white male? even a white female would be okay. but why does it always have to be a white male. >> host: let's get a response from tom brokaw. >> guest: that is not a condition of the job. we try to pick the best journalist that is available to us who has a combination of skills, political knowledge, broadcasting skills, at least in the studio. in this case, david gregory
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turned up on top. there were lots of candidates for the job, including women. but david gregory seemed to be the best equipped for the job. it was not a decision i made. at the same time, there have been a number of women, honestly, who have gravitated to the top in what were traditionally male anchor jobs in america. diane sawyer is now doing abc. before that, katie was at cbs. so we do have more female participation going on. i happen to believe that the 21st century will be the century of women. half of the company presents are women. still, only 3% and the ceo in the fortune 500 report women. one woman is an important executive in silicon valley. missile burns is an african-american woman at a technology company, xerox. we are making slow progress.
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but with each success, i think it inspires others to step up. more than half of the students now enrolled in medical school and law schools are women. that will have a big impact on our society. >> host: several e-mails and tweets on this one. can you please discuss the print journalism future and broadcast journalism future? >> guest: we are going through transition, obviously. it is very hard for me to see how it's all going to turn out, say 20 years from now. say when my eldest granddaughter is in her mid- '30s. what will she be getting her news from on a daily basis? she's always a part of the information technology generation, very actively involved. but stills still pays attention to books. she reads a lot of them.
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it seems to me that one will not replace the other. there will still be a place for print and paper. an author and i have books coming out on the same time. it's a book on steve jobs, and it's a great book. we were on "meet the press" the same weekend. and walter said, you know, i want hardbound books for the rest my life in my library. because it's unlikely that i'm going to go back to my ipad or my kindle or to any of the other electronic devices and retrieve a book. you know, when i want to read something. so my guess is that print will be for some time. it's interesting in journalism what is going on. and nbc news, we have spread the
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field. we still have the traditional forms of the "nbc nightly news" with brian williams, who is doing so well, and "the today show." we have all of our cable outlets. they also have ancillary parts. they all have websites and broadcast will continue with more information. i was on "meet the press" this morning with david reverie. after he talked about what else he would be able to find on the "meet the meet the press website, there is x right now. there's a lot moving around and how it is all at this point. >> host: what is your role now and nbc? >> guest: i'm a cranky old uncle at the table. [laughter] i'm very actively involved in a lot of our daily and weekly programming and our cable programming. i'm going to be on a morning
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show on tuesday i know for sure. i'm going to do an update on the aaron walls and story. i did a story on the young man who cut his arm off to get out of the canyon. i have two documentaries that are in play for the fall. i'm going to take a more active role in the fall in politics, probably, possibly team up with chuck to do todd and broke off, i don't want to give away too many details, we will cover a piece of that for ourselves. what happens in any news organization is that people responsible for putting up the daily products sometimes get their heads so absorbed, and just the process of getting it out. they don't allow themselves to have a perspective of standing back. i'm a doer. i now get to watch. so i wait in the -- by way in
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every now and then and make suggestions. technology is driving everything in our lives, and yet we are not covering it for what it is. which is a huge part of our economy. it is a life changing development of some kind. and it is a cultural phenomenon. yet, because of what happened in silicon valley, and it is hard to understand, we stay away from it. then there is a cardassians, some bright young and men and women operating a storefront in palo alto, and they are going to end up changing the world. >> host: carlsbad, california. go ahead. >> caller: i'm one of the greatest generation. and i want to thank you for your
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knowledge and acknowledgment of us. and also, your support on the emphasis on education. i am from the lower east side in new york with seven kids. i had a one bedroom apartment. i ended up on the left coast in california. america has been marvelous to us. marvelous to us immigrants who came over with nothing but hope. and all that hope of that hope has been filled, and i agree with you, education is the most important thing of all. and it was free for us, and that is what helped. that is what made us what we
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are, we could not have done it without that. >> guest: thank you so much. that is so characteristic of so many of them that i hear from, and that is also worth hearing again and again and again for future generations and generations who are in place now, wondering whether they will go up with their lives and where they will go. a lot of the immigration talk is entirely legitimate. something has to be resolved in a way that we don't blow ourselves up. we are an immigrant nation. what i say in the books and in other places, is that this immigrant nation which brings so many strings from so many places and comes here because the american dream is they can have a better life and enjoy the fruits of the economy and be protected by the rule of law, that when we take advantage of other things. >> host: and "the time of our lives", the time for the nine or
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10 months school term has come to an end. if american education is to measure up against global competition, time spent in the classroom or in some form of learning environment must be extended. in a society where more and more families and both parents working, we have a vast population of unsupervised kids disconnected from adult supervision and from the discipline of learning for two or three months a year. >> guest: that is a tough sell. what i find increasingly in american education now is that it is on the agenda now. people are talking about. and by the changes in the last 10 years. charter schools and schools that go not one through 1201 through 14. the enormous new emphasis on community colleges in america to develop a skill set for the modern workplace, instead of someone going off and spending four years and not knowing what
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they're going to do the end of it. now you have a more focused education at a community college, two years in which to get the kinds of skills that modern manufacturing or health care services require. there is going to be a big boom in that kind of education. what i am suggesting is that we also have to look at the link length of the school term, because any teacher or school administrator will tell you that a two-month gap is a falling back if they don't live in a household where education or breeding or constantly advancing their mental skill set is not part of everyday life. >> host: tom brokaw is the author of six books. "the greatest generation", and "the greatest generation speaks" letters and reflections, "an album of memories", along with "a long way from home." also, "boom!", talking that the 60s and "the time of our
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lives" came out last year. we have in our have to go on our in-depth program with tom brokaw. a producer visited him in his office at 30 rock. here's a little bit of that. >> guest: i always wanted to write a book. i was very busy with my broadcaster mbc, and i was doing a lot of writing at sa link. i did a lot of magazine articles, a lot of little pieces, and written about other people. the idea entire book was a little daunting. i had never written about before. and because my editor, who had been courting me for some time, had a real tragedy going on in her family. her husband became permanently ill. i was at sea, if you will, about how he write a book.
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i knew it had to have a beginning and end, but what about the research? and what about approving of it when you are all done? i was desperate to find somebody to help me with a research piece of it. i had a very good fortune to find a woman by the name of elizabeth boyer who deferred a year of law school. she was getting ready to go to law school and had been working for hillary clinton. she was beyond solid gold. she was as good of a researcher is anybody could find anytime anywhere. she helped me put together this book, finding characters that fit with the category that we needed. right here, this is my nbc office. but i do a lot of writing at this cabin in montana. this is an older dugout. it has the dirt roof and 110-year-old laws. i keep my fly rods on those
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horns in the summertime so i can walk out and go fishing. inside, my wife, as a gift to me, did a great job of giving me space that i wanted to do work in. i have written four books in that setting. i have my serious radio over here, i have my computer and printer and some favorite artwork as well. but i do a lot of work at 5:00 o'clock a.m. or 5:30 a.m., until about 9:00 a.m. when the fish may be rising. three of my heroes are abraham lincoln, winston churchill, who is was an important figure in the 20th century and in world war ii, and this is bill farber, he was ahead of the clinical nice apartment in the university of dakota. he was a legendary figure and
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academic. he turned out governors and senators and he had a distinguished career. i was known as one of barbers voice. at one point in my life, i was not a very good student. i'm spending more time on the social scene. and he insisted that i dropped out of school and come back when i could do them some good. and i did. it worked out very well. now, i think having written these books, that they'll probably would give me a passing grade.
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[music playing] ♪ ♪
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>> host: we are back in her studio with tom brokaw. we are going to put the numbers on the screen in a moment. we just saw mr. brokaw in his office at 30 rock. and you talked about one of your professors at the university of south dakota. this e-mail has come in from mr. letterman. mr. brokaw, would you comment on the benefits of a political science or economic degree over a communications degree for inspiring broadcast journalists? >> guest: i think there are some very good communities and schools in the country, always beginning with colombia, also i was at arizona state over the weekend. they have the cronkite school down there. they have a new digital platform. the former managing editor of
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the "washington post" is teaching there. they have a state-of-the-art facility. al newhart has created the modern university of south cutty, the new heart center. but all journalists should have a greater investment, i suppose, in other disciplines. i think it is important to note the tools and techniques of journalism. but it is much more important in a way to know about what you are talking about. if you are a science major for example, or an economic or political science and economics major, that gives you a leg up in covering critical issues of our day. i say to young people that science is an area ripe for taking for journalists. it is going to find more and more of our world, and we need more people to be able to understand what is happening in science, to be able to translate it can convey it.
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>> host: if you live in the eastern central timezone, call our number to speak with tom brokaw. we are going to put the e-mail address as well. "book tv" at c-span.org. order our twitter address. make a comment on twitter.com/tv. it's a white horse and 10 house correspondent job easier nowadays? >> guest: no, it's not. at 7:00 o'clock at night when i finish with nightly news, i didn't have cable requirements, i didn't have to go on rachel matteau or one of the other cable shows. i had to find out what was going to say the max morning on "the today show." in addition to that, chuck has a daily rundown of his own that he has to get ready for.
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so you are working the phones, and also preparing for your own show. the instrumentation, he can carry his phone around in his pocket. i didn't have a cell phone. i had to get to a payphone to make a call. that is an enormous help. you can now e-mail your sources and stay in touch with them that way. when i was -- earlier this year, doing morning show with some regularity, there were people in the white house commenting on what it was you were saying. we could have these exchanges. on capitol hill, and in the military, people i have had these exchanges with. the speed at which you can retrieve information, put things in context, ask a question, it's very helpful. >> host: did you enjoy hosting "the today show"? >> guest: i did. it was a different show in those days. i think matt lauer is fairly static. thank goodness he's just
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renewed. i went from being a white house correspondent in the greatest political crisis in this country's history, the constitutional crisis, to being the host of "the today show." in the first week, i may have interviewed the new miss america by asking whether or not she could produce the title for that year that she was wearing. it was that kind of mindset that i brought to it. and it took me a while to adjust. by the end of the five years, i was grateful for the chance to meet more authors than i would've otherwise. i made friends in show business and entertainment. i reminded george lucas was pretty much unknown, but he launched star wars on "the today show." in agreement, he could walk in and there would be harrison ford and george lucas sitting around. we would just talk about this film and how it is a breakthrough kind of film. i think we did the first
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interview with lester sloan after rocky. it was a breakthrough film. he came and stayed on with us. in the 1980 election, i was working 24/7. as racing off to every primary. "the today show" became my stop in the morning for political coverage. now it has gravitated to morning joe. they have political talk going on there, and they have time for discussion and they bring in the principles, and i think that has been helpful. >> host: while we were watching a video from 30 rock, as are brokaw was checking his e-mail that he got an announcement. >> guest: yes, sarkozy, it looks like sarkozy has beaten michael
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allen. so i think that sarkozy is in some trouble. >> host: back to your calls. chris and connecticut. please ask your question for tom brokaw. >> caller: congratulations on a great body of work. i really started my call about my generation, how we did so little work, we didn't volunteer enough, i did, but of course,. [inaudible conversations] what i really thought to talk about right now is the idea of people educating themselves. when i was a kid growing up, my dad had a high school that was self taught with the 1930 judiciary. later on, my next white is
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actually -- my ex-wife got her high school ged. people need to concentrate on educating themselves, and i was hoping you could encourage that. >> guest: i'm very happy to. i think that we all doing away that we may not even be thinking about. if you google something everyday to find out some piece of information, that is a form of self education. this is about to explode into a new universe in america. harvard, mit and stanford are cooperating in online courses. bill gates talks about the courses that he pays attention to him almost every day that he is in constant pursuit of information. honestly a great mind. he said that most americans underestimate what is available on the internet for free but you can get. there are a lot of math programs, for example.
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that is an area where i could use additional help. one of them happened to involve a map was -- a math wizard who said i could make this into a website, and he did that. the opportunity depends on the initiative of individual. as that technology becomes easier to use and becomes more prevalent in society, and more people will be going to it for education. >> host: tom brokaw come how to organize the structure in "boom!"? >> guest: i organize it around people and my own experiences. i lived through the 60s. it was such a sea change for how most of us have been raised. again, i was a little bit older. so when 1968 hit, i was 3020 years of age. i wasn't 22 or 20 or 18. my life had been formed by the
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values of the greatest generation in the 50s culture. i was absolutely intrigued by what was going on. everything from jim lovell, the astronaut, and what he was doing, and other people that were active in the movement, and joan baez, have a long talk with her about what she was thinking. john young and the other young people who were a part of the coordinating committee. i was working in the win atlanta at the time. ira member the day that the committee -- it actually had been written by -- i'm trying to remember -- it came out under julian bond's name. julian bond had been elected to
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the georgia assembly. at that point, they decided to deny him the sea. they could identify with the goals of the vietcong. >> host: who is sheriff tom gilmore of alabama? >> guest: he is an interesting case. he is an african-american church within were gone. he represented a sea change in alabama. a law enforcement officer with a badge and the authority of the law who happened to be an african-american. and that was, again, one of the changes that occurred that probably didn't get enough notice. >> host: macs coming you are on booktv on c-span 2. please go ahead. >> caller: hello, they are. before my question, i would like to just be earlier. tom, you were asked about desegregation of meet the press. you chose to divert it to the attention of women.
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you are asked, why are there not black people that were in "meet the press." there so many lack journalist i could do this. mary mitchell from the chicago sun-times, other names come all these brilliant black journalists treated every time there is a new host on "meet th press", it always goes to a white male. >> guest: yes, that is in fact the case, and it probably won't be that way forever. by the way, i did have mary mitchell as a panelist when i took over temporarily. she wrote one of the best profiles i have seen over michele obama. this is a slow rising tide. david gregory didn't get the job just because he was a white male. he is someone who had been a white house correspondent for nbc. he had the skills that were necessary to be a good broadcaster and a good interviewer. the time will come when those jobs will be again available,
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and there will be a much wider range of people who will be eligible for them. one of them could very well be an african-american. it may be an asian american. i'm not sure. it may be a hispanic american. we are seeing more presents of people with different ethnic backgrounds than just white, anglo and protestant. bryant gumbel succeeded me on "the today show" as the african-american host of "the today show", for example. >> host: for scrotal organ, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: i come from a different journalist background than you, but i feel equally crucial to americans and how they should know what is going on in their world. i was a reporter and an editor at a small, medium-sized weeklies in dailies over the nation for years.
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including the editor of the yankton daily press in north dakota for a couple of years. i am so concerned about the demise of newspapers in this country. we touched a little bit before, having to do with books. which i hope hardbound and print paper last forever. the demise of newspapers, i feel, is a very dangerous thing to the public's -- the public's awareness of what is going on in our country. without newspapers, i think that it lowers the chance that people really understand what is going on in this nation. i think the news does a great job. >> host: i think we have the point, mr. brokaw? >> guest: i think i got a point and we are now going in that direction. the readership on a daily basis of newspapers, there is a riot,
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if you will, in the number of people who are getting the same kind of information off the internet. i was just referring to a site that is very popular in this town. i recommended it to you, it's called politico. there is something called an investigative unit in washington that is all mine, and the man who organized that was a former managing editor of "the wall street journal." so we are in transition. that doesn't mean one will go away quickly and be replaced by nothing. journalism is always going to be critical to any free society. we need to have a way for folks to get information that they can use to make decisions about
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their lives and about learning what is going on in their nation, and to exercise their influence either by voting or by joining movements of one kind or another. >> host: amy e-mails into you. in your writings about world war ii, have you discussed the forced imprisonment of japanese-americans in pearl harbor. my parents and grand parents were interned at two of the so-called relocation camps. >> guest: yes, actually have. there is a discussion in "the greatest generation" of that. i went to a remarkable union last summer of those who move to place called turtle mountain in wyoming, which is just north of cody wyoming. it was fascinating to see -- these were people who came from san jose and san francisco area, and were put in this godforsaken place with very little heat.
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they were bewildered about why they had been sent in the first place. they had abandoned their homes, businesses, too, very swiftly. it was very striking to see how they had emerged from that experience and had children and grandchildren. how so many of them had succeeded in so many different levels. when they came back, the original detainees, people who had been imprisoned there, were spry and hilarious and insightful. and they were, in my judgment, the personification of the greatest generation. for all the injustices that had been done to them, they emerged from that experience more determined to be better citizens than ever and to be a better citizen which meant you could not allow that to happen in this country again. a lot of people learn from their painful experiences. african-americans went in and suffered great dissemination and world war ii came back and they helped form the underpinning for
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the civil rights movement. they said we thought that these freedoms. this is our country. they were being denied to us, and we must change that. >> host: in other news this weekend, joe biden announcing that he is comfortable with gay marriage. this e-mail from you from brett scofield from iowa. do you see any parallels with today's same sex marriage movement and that of the 60s? >> guest: i think it is moving in the same direction, but there is still a great deal of resistance. family by family and state-by-state and institution by institution, there is a lowering of resistance to the idea of gay marriage, it is a very big case in california that may or may not get to the supreme court and proposition eight, which you are finding more tolerance for all the time. >> host: martin in san francisco, good afternoon.
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>> caller: i'm glad to be able to speak to mr. brokaw. part of my question is, is a baby boomer, i grew up and talk to my parents, my aunts and uncles, but we learned very little, really, from the personal interactions as far as disabilities go. i was cares about this. the veterans didn't talk about the war. the high school dropouts didn't talk about how difficult it was to succeed him what they had to go through in order to succeed. it is a very unassuming kind of biography -- in biographies that we learn about the generation. i was wondering how you were able to develop and enrich the oral histories in the way that you have, so that we are able to
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look at it. one of the thoughts of my generation, the way i see it, we were always critical -- everything that we were so critical of, and yet the generation seems have to have carried so much weight on their shoulders without the criticisms -- you know, without the minute chat. >> host: we have the point, thank you. >> guest: i did have a hard time getting many of them to talk about wartime experiences. in part, it's too painful to go back. they lost friends come and in and saw terrible events happen before their eyes. the families at home went through enormous sacrifices. long separations, marriages were under strain. children who were born before a father went off to war may have lost that father without ever getting to know them. george bush 41 was a perfect example. he was a fighter pilot,
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effectively, out in the pacific. and he just wouldn't give up. they kept going back to him and finally, he told me to remarkable stories. one was about him being an officer. he had to make sure that they didn't give up the location and what they were doing. he had been raised in a very privileged background and connecticut. he said for the first time, really learned about domestic strain in marriage and what it was like to live in a city without air-conditioning. how hard life was on the farm. then there was a terrible accident on the deck of his ship in which body parts were everywhere. and everybody was just paralyzed with shock and fear, and he said chief petty officer -- he came right away and we have to get a plane ticket out of here. and he says we have to focus on the mission we have to get done.
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when you're 19 years old, that leaves a lasting impression on you. i had a friend i grew up with, and i didn't even know that in the war he had a terrible, terrible time. he said he would go into a bar and talk about combat, and he would walk out -- he just didn't talk about it -- as i said earlier, can said to me when i wrote the book, it gave them permission to talk. so many of them said to me when i asked how did you deal with combat stress, with what we now call postmen stress disorder, they said we didn't go to anybody because it was her bravado generation. i slept on the floor for two years and my wife got down beside me. she was there to comfort me. they didn't have doctor phil and oprah and all the other self-help programs that we have now. ..
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.. i'm so privileged and please come and to take this as patronizing. you're a great american. i'm a member of the greatest generation and i'm so privileged to have been. as an air force come it didn't have to go overseas. he was drafted at 38 years old. i want to say this to you. i grew up during the depression. it was the best of times and worst of times in mississippi. but subsequently as a young member, i had the privilege ofe integrating the schoolsully her peacefully here in jackson, tennessee. we had three students in junior. high school. i got a call from attorneym general and said they were we monitoring a problems. the biggest threat in my life and all that, but let me just say, i had the privilege, i'm
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talking fast and i will supervise and denies taking to college football hall of fame modestly in new york in '03. i had the privilege of going to germany in 2000-2001 to do seminars for the german football officials. i was so impressed with the young men. they spoke perfect english. >> host: could you wrap this up? >> caller: i was so impressed with their attitude toward third reich and how, as much a shame as there were other, and i just wanted to commend you for all you've done. i have your books and i'm going to get the latest one. thank you so much for being patient with me. >> guest: thank you. that insurance they had in germany was always interesting to me. when i go to germany now and run into young people, or even people my age, and in some
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fashion the war comes a. they are complexion changes. you can see a just drained through the body. imagine what it's like to be a german and trying to understand what went on in the name of german nationalism. and probably involve and and uncles and grandfathers and grandmothers and other members of your own family, that terrible, terrible time in world history. there has never been a more evil kind of empire than what hitler somehow managed to persuade the german people it was their best interest of the holocaust, for example, to have a military agency that was running rampant through europe and intends to get to the western world. >> host: are you recognize over in germany? two people open up to you they're likely to hear here? >> guest: in some degree. in part most american programs are played, but later over there
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i often do people say to me, i stay up at midnight and watch you. i love nightly news. i was in saudi arabia the following week, the british ambassador in saudi arabia, after finished the interview, he said i was postapartheid in washington so my wife and i stayed up the other night to watch your broadcast on nightly news. i said in riyadh? he said yes, we have a channel that carries all of the american programs. there was a time you could go abroad and have anonymity. it's not a burden by the way. it just comes with the territory. most people are very generous in what they have to say, and those or not you just keep on moving. >> host: the last time i was in germany i would see older couples, and i wanted to go up and talk to them about world war ii, and i certainly didn't. >> guest: it's very hard host but i just want to hear what they were doing. >> guest: it's very hard for them. the most touching stories in a way, not just the germans but the japanese, was the combatants
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have got together. the german soldiers have got together with people they face often at close range, or japanese soldiers. there's a touching, haunting story of on demand that i knew who, i think it was on the would you not. he took off a dead japanese soldier, which he had a face-to-face conversation with them. personal effects. then realize that there were letters from his wife, pictures of his children, and when he got back here, it haunted him for years. he found the wife and flew to japan and returned the pictures. it's that kind of reconciliation that goes on, the magnitude of the madness that we were going through that give you hope. >> host: victoria texas, good afternoon. >> caller: that is a much. mr. brokaw, it's a big honor to speak to you. i am originally from india.
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i came to this country in 1974 at age 21 as an electrical engineer student. and i had a great career since then. and now reflecting back on, i'm not a student of history, but your book really has got me thinking about. you wondered earlier in the program that what this generation would think of your generation, just as you thought highly of the greatest generation, and i want to say that the biggest compliment that can be paid to generation, mr. brokaw, is that you advanced and promoted the cause of liberty and freedom throughout the world. i grew up in india, and it was a destitute country. we didn't have enough to eat, and there was a program, to the indian people it meant a lot. under that program american fed
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india with wheat at throwaway price i think, and for that, and he is tremendously grateful to america. >> host: we will leave it there. mr. brokaw? >> guest: that's true around the world. we sometimes, in our priest of self population took yourselves enough credit. there's no other country that is as generous as this one. that's one of the points i've been making recently is that china, which is now spreading itself around the world developing man cans to extract natural resources in western africa. they are all over central, south america. until recently they were mostly they're just as extractors. they were taking the riches of those countries. the united states on the other hand has always been both any government away and the nongovernmental way. there when the need is great but if you look at haiti at all the
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agencies that respond. with other agencies as well. they came in from israel and central europe. i have been involved in something called international rescue committee which for a long longtime refugee organization founded originally by albert einstein to help refugees from central europe come to america during nazi germany. then it kicks are as of again as a hungarian revolt but it's been very active in southeast asia. now in the middle east, and we're all over africa with medical programs and resettlement programs come in getting visas for people who need to get here, highly professional staff that operates around the world. that's one of minis, doctors without borders is another one, a medical corps is another one, the save the children. there's no other country in the world that is as generous or as proactive in advancing human rights as the united states is. >> host: wendi hayes e-mails in. i know you're a keen watcher of international departments and i would like to know what you think about the changes in
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burma. >> guest: well, it's very hard and. i think it's a perfect example of what happens if you keep the pressure on for a long time. and no country in the global economy completely, can completely isolate itself. i went to south africa when we had the sanctions against south africa and nelson mandela was still in jail. and you are only hurting the people at the lower end of the food chain in this country because they can't get the jobs they might've gotten otherwise. but, in fact, it did work. it really force the african government to think about what the future would be in terms of anticipation of all citizens, and the legacy of that country. and f. w. de klerk more than anyone else, once he got to be the president of south africa, had a real crisis of conscience and realize that having been raised as a champion of
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apartheid, he was destroying the future of that country and denying this great man is placed in leadership. so de klerk is someone who got not enough attention in my judgment for the conversion that he had. and he was responsible for getting mandela released and then becoming his vice president. >> host: larry calloway dean mills into, mr. brokaw, you are a westerner at least by residents and you seem to be comfortable backpacking and hiking. these make unique among national journalists. how can the new york-based national press become more in touch with the west and our concerns? >> guest: by getting out of the more. i lived in new york more than half my life. i love new york. my wife and i live right dead center in the heart of manhattan. we go to the theater a lot. we are on the board of museum of natural history. she's very actively involved in the city, but what gives that experience real riches is the time we spent out west, the
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time, when we're in the west, we find ourselves longing for the great restaurants of new york. so for us it's just been the right cocktail of experiences. of part was, part urban, and then a lot of international travel. >> host: next call comes from portland, maine. heidi, you're on the air. whole-mac hi. it's an honor to be on the phone with you. forgive me, i'm a little bit in eloquent right now, but -- estimate you live in a great city by the way. portland, maine,. >> caller: it is a wonderful place. i'm calling because i once sent to your office a press release about tibet. and i wanted, and your office was one of the few places that called me right back the next day. and i was wondering, what about
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the issue of tibet so drew you to it? it seems like you're so interested in what my grandfather's generation wanted to do for our country, and what they been able to achieve. and i would really like to know what drew you to the tibetan issue? >> guest: 1987, nbc news went to china, was a weeklong investment called changing china. and i wanted it to not just a travelogue but to deal with some of the outstanding issues of human rights. and nothing was more exotic to me than to bet. first of all i was drawn to the geography. it's one of the most stunning place in the world. you land and already at 14,000 feet and it goes up from there. the buddhist culture, the way of life has always been intriguing to me. i have friends who are buddhist.
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if they're not full-time practicing buddhist, they like to leave a big old buddhist lifestyle which is living lightly on the olympics i went to tibet and the chinese thought i was doing kind of a tourism peace but is going there to document what was, in fact, going on in the country under the determination of the beijing regime to eliminate all traces of the buddhist history, if you will, the dod and a theocracy that hadn't been in tibet for a long time but it's a very complex situation but it did get around a lot. the chinese caught on to what i was doing. they were very unhappy with me. i flew out and spent three days with the dalai lama, was found to be not only a wise man but a very reasonable and very level. and almost without ego in entirely. he couldn't have been more
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charming. it became an important part of my interest in life. i continued to follow it all and i've had the chance to see his holiness on many occasions when he has been back here. he gave me, when we left him, a little people. he gave my wife a ring. i have always said she has been engaged to two men in her life, tom brokaw and the dalai lama. >> host: from own, 1964 to new york where he currently lives. we took the train to york and went to the world's fair in flushing meadows. still bound by the convention of her upbringing and the custom of the time, i put on a jacket and tie, and meredith or high heels and toes, despite the sweltering mid-summer heat. one night we spent the equivalent of a third of my weekly salary on two drinks and a couple of small crab cakes served on large plates in the rainbow room at the top of 30
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rockefeller plaza which is also the address of nbc news. that was in 1964. next call for him comes from california. richard, hi. >> caller: high, mr. brokaw. it's an honor to be speaking with you. originally i'm from los angeles, california, and i used to watch on the 6:00 news on channel four. the reason i did it, my dad always watch the tv news and read the "herald" examiner paper. and i think of all the broadcasters i have ever seen, you're the one that has always intrigued me the most, and my question for you is, of all the president should ever met, which president intrigue you the most, and also what lessons did we learn from watergate? >> guest: that includes the oval office, that's the big lesson, is that no president, no
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matter how skilled he or she may be, has a right to run roughshod over the established principles of law, and their enforcement procedures in this country. richard nixon, the rest of us will spend the rest of our lifetime to figure out who he really was. really was the 40th anniversary of the opening of china but said no more diplomatic and stroke than that. in the postwar years but and yet here was a man who was so paranoid and had such a dark side that he would come in either by omission or by commission, he would let it be known to his aides that they could break into other peoples places to try to get information that might be helpful, and tried to cover it up by using the cia and the fbi, and lying about and thrown overboard his closest aides one after another in an attempt to save himself. so that was an astonishing time.
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i do think that we learned a lot about hubris during the course of watergate and we have to be on constant alert for as for the most intriguing president, it will be impossible for me to say. they all brought such interesting qualities to the job. it's the hardest thing in the world to do, is to run successfully for president. a lot of people have not been successful, and it's in part because they simply were not up to it. those who eventually get to the oval office, however successful or unsuccessful they may have been in her administration, always bring unique qualities to the assignment of being a candidate. >> host: where we on august 9, 1974? >> guest: the white house lawn. i was in san clemente when the supreme court decision came down, and -- >> host: with the president. >> guest: with the president. he was out there at the time but
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it was an explosive development. we in effect knew it was over at that point, because if the tapes were cleaned we would've heard that earlier. but now the supreme court said we've got to hear them. and you could just tell to the white house staff that they knew this was the in game. we flew back to washington. the president flew back, and there was an air of unreality because everybody was frozen in place. all of the decisions were being made in the living quarters of the white house. henry kissinger and the president getting together. what was the president going to do. i have been working the hill for the last nine months on a regular basis. i had opened a line of communication with bob griffin, the senator from michigan as part of the republican leadership. i knew others on the hill as well because i always thought eventually it will come to that. whether the impeachment or not. and late in the afternoon on that monday, i guess it was a 74
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the eighth. i don't remember the exact date that the algorithm called in, the senator did, which extremely rare, and he said you've been very patient with me. you should know that a delegation of us will be coming to the white house tonight to tell the president that it's over. and so, i called nightly news, i've got a big star. they said you need a second source. i said look, i can trust this guy. they said you've got to get a second source, this is very big. i scrambled and i'm not going to give up all the details about what i did, i did find a legitimate second source. i went on the air to say they were scheduled to come, and in the meantime the white house called and said it's not necessary. we understand what's going on. i think it was al haig to call bob griffin and barry goldwater. and so when i said that they were planning to come, that got on the air and barry goldwater the next day was very exercised and went on the senate chamber
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for an took me apart for saying that because he said i'm not going. and then i later went to and i said senator, i have -- i know, but i have to say something. that's how it worked. there was no sleep the meredith remembers me coming home, i guess on that occasion, and have the transcripts of the tapes by then. and it was midnight, and she listened -- she lets some cold chicken after i had all these trends gets in the case and outstanding in the kitchen eating chicken, and she that you can sit down. at the next day i look at the transcripts and they had smudge marks from the chicken. these are kind of historic documents. maybe i should have done that but it was a well-timed. >> host: june 4, 1968. >> guest: june 4, 1968? >> host: california primary. >> guest: california primary. you know, it's what preceded that but also made it so
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dramatic and so emotional. bobby kennedy came into the race late. >> host: you in l.a. at the time. >> guest: i was up and down california. i had been a young admirer of eugene mccarthy because he came from my part of the country and i thought he was a cerebral man, had great capacity for language. and i actually had dinner with him in the preceding fall before he announced, so i was very taken. and i had friends were deeply involved in both campaigns, a very close friend of mine was a chair of the mccarthy campaign in california the other closers of my work the chair of the bobby kennedy campaign. so when bobby kennedy loses oregon, california is it before chicago. he is got to win california atheist any shot at all at getting the nomination but he has to prove to mayor daley that he can win california. and "meet the press" on the
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sunday before that tuesday was real rock 'n roll between mccarthy and bobby kennedy. and i was racing from one end of state to the other to cover them in separate cisco out at the beach house and so on. then election day comes. item in the studio waiting to go on the air with the local returns. frankly, he was on the air for us in new york. suddenly there was a delay. and somebody said there's been a shooting, and we had already been through dr. king at the point, obviously, and we been through the assassination of president kennedy at that point. and i've been a lot of gunshots in the course of urban riots as well. and if they collectively our hearts sank. and the first thing that happened is that he'd been shot in the hip, was broadcast. and then chuck quinn from nbc came on and said no, he's been shot in the head. so i took off my microphone and took off.
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i was out at burbank and exactly what the precinct house was that you're likely to take whoever it was who was a suspect it and i raced down there and i jumped out of the car and i could see just kashmir the speaker of the california assembly with his head down talking to a policeman. and as he came out, i said, who is this guy? because we've heard that he was a mexican-american what they called a chicano. he worked in the kitchen which would have it, the place you might expect to see back and. and he said, no come he some kind of an arab. that was the first we knew and he said his name is sirhan sirhan. the first we heard of the. i then went from there to the hospital and stayed all night long doing reports. i was very close to johnson was one of bobby kennedy's closest friends but he was one of my close personal friends. later he told me a remarkable story. i went back to interview him from home, and did not talk about this.
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and he wrestled the gun out of sirhan sirhan's hands. and looked down at bobby's eyes are still open but he thought he is going to do. he stuck the gun in his sports jacket, raced out, jumped in the motorcade going to the hospital, stayed there until about nine in the morning, still thinking that bobby might make it. went home, took off his jacket, threw himself in bed, and slept for about two hours, got up to go back to the hospital, put on his sports jacket, the gun was still there. told you something that lapd in collecting evidence. i mean, here's the gun that assassinated the senator, and he gave up 24 hours later body was gone of course. member saying in august of that year on the air, ticking off all that happened, lyndon johnson pulling out, 16,000 people died in vietnam that year. we had the chicago writes. we have bobby kennedy killed. we had dr. martin luther king
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killed in memphis, obviously. and in august of that year, i think czechoslovakia was invaded. i can't remember. there was some other big event. and the year was not even half over at that point. it was an astonishing time in our lives. >> host: tom brokaw might also but his coverage of the chicago convention, the 1960 democratic convention, and he writes that chicago was an exhausting, emotional experience for everyone involved and as i learned when i stopped in south dakota to visit my family in the back to california, the emotions were not confined to the windy city. when i visited my parents, i thought that given their opposition to the vietnam war inupsett
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the most exciting time an hour-long family relationship. by the next day, i recognized i brad brokaw's reaction to what u they would carry at chicago.ou >> guest: i did.r of thet a further member, silentw majority in his own way with an fdr democrat working. he was very unhappy with what his son was not toh, when he tson went off tovienam. vietnam it was a class system, and he raised his voice to me about that. and then when the demonstrators in chicago behave the way that they did, use the language that they did, he found that unacceptable. this is not how you resolve issues and america. i think it probably helped elect richard nixon that you. he played to the silent majority. >> host: do you think your dad might have voted for nixon? >> guest: i don't think he did. i think they probably would have voted -- he was in south dakota
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for one thing. my mother used to call on him at the drugstores. no, they would have voted for humphrey i'm sure. i can't imagine they would have voted for next. they trusted humphrey. >> host: next call comes from miami. chris, you're on the air. >> caller: hello, mr. brokaw. it's an honor to speak with you. i've admired you for many years, followed your career, and always enjoy hearing your comments and your perspective on the news of the day. i do have a question regarding bias in the media. and that is, you know, i've watched fox news. i consider it almost an arm of the republican party. i watch msnbc. i consider that an arm of the democratic party. and it's very frustrating to try to access news that comes
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through unbiased. and i was wondering if you could comment on that? >> host: we got the point. >> guest: i hear that a lot. unit, for as long as i've been doing this people have accused the press of being biased one way or the other. bias like beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. when the sun goes down to a very distinct points of view. but it's transparent. they don't try to hide it. we know sean hannity and bill o'reilly take great pride in their conservative principle to rachel maddow and chris matthews and others who are on msnbc are what they like to call progressive/liberals. during the day and, fox news is a good job of covering the straight news by and large. sometimes you think you can see in their political coverage a kind of residue from the night before, but on big breaking stories that are not pathological they do fine, so does msnbc. here's my advice.
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we have to be more proactive as news consumers, everyone. there was a time when you could just be a couch potato. you get up and more, watch all bit of the today show, walter cronkite, david brent and i hope later dan, peter or topic then you would be pretty will serve. now that screen is so crowded and the voices are coming at you from so many directions that you kind of got to give up on your toes, so to speak, and be mentally alert to who is trying to meet the new -- manipulate you. what social to prolonged period of time, what serves you well, what comes to you and some of appropriate context. and if you do that, you've got a greater range of sources of information than anyone in the history of mankind. any keystroke you can access all the great newspapers, asia, europe, the offerings of the saudi foreign ministry, for example, or look at the economic report of the departments of
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commerce or finance in brazil and south america. it's astonishing the universe and the reach of it that we have available to us very easily these days, but it takes a more vigilant and aggressive role on the part of us who are the consumers of that news. >> host: arline e-mails in from pennsylvania. wanted to thank you for the piece you did during the olympics on the people of british, columbia, and assistance during 9/11. it was very moving and taught us all that we need to care for each other. >> guest: it was tender, newfoundland. i was in british columbia when i did. gander is a place for some people of a certain age will remember where used to stop on your way to europe for refilling. especially if you're flying from the west coast. it was billed as a long range bomber base for refilling during world war ii, and then was a trans-atlantic jets of come a kind of went into a different gear.
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it sits up there on the edge of the atlantic ocean. i've been in and out of there because i'm a fisherman and the like to fish in newfoundland. and what happened with gander is that when 9/11 happened and they put down all the planes, the gander airport was told you were going to have arriving here in the next 12 hours, and i figure the exact number, but something like 37 transatlantic flights that you will have 4000 people coming to your town, double the population. you are going to have to figure out what to do within. they can't take your luggage off, by the way. so these planes one after another, 747s and airbuses came into the wing tip to wing tip and landed there. account in a heartbeat mobilize. they took the ice rink, the hockey rink and made into a large refrigeration unit. red cross from all over canada converged on gander. the people opened their doors and they took in folks.
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the pharmacist stayed open 24 sevenths for people who couldn't get to their medication, filled prescriptions for you. the merchants in town give away sweat shirts and pants whatever they needed. couples fell in love. it was the whole universe that went on for three days. and most of us in this country come in the lower 48, did know about it because we are so consumed with what was going on here. we went back and did that story with nbc sports and put it on at the time of the vancouver olympics, and i must say the response here was phenomenal. people said oh, my god, we need to see more of that. it made the folks in gander really proud, for good reason, and most other canadians as well. and when it asked the mayor if he was nervous about meeting me when i came up to interview him, he said i was for a moment and then ability of god going to be about nervous about meeting me, so it was okay. >> host: what time did you go on the air on 9/11? >> guest: about 9:20 i think. i was so but i just finished my
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meal to my wife to give me a very attacking yoga instructor i often thought back on a. it helped me get to the day. i was worn out, and the phone rang and i thought thank god. and then they said some plane hit the world trade center but i turned the tv. as i was getting dressed, doesn't make any sense. ran out the door, and as i ran out the door, i don't think this is part of my imagination, i heard the sirens going just north of the. i led the 81st a park avenue. it was a firehouse at 84th. that truck was going across town at that point. because everybody else in her neighborhood was oblivious to what happened there out on the street and walking their dogs, going to vote or whatever the ice at a couple of minute, do you know what's happened? they said the election is not over. i said no, the world trade center. on the way downtown the second plane hit. and a very good radio reporter in new york, who i knew i could rely on, although i don't know but i've known about his
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reputation, and i knew we were at war. i called my wife in montana where she was, well crap and i said you better get a. i don't know when we'll be up to talk again. this is very serious. and i got to the office, went right on the show with matt and katie. and we stayed on the air, and i picked it up in the afternoon and it went from there. >> host: next called, to making the california. >> caller: thank you. it is such a pleasure to speak to you mr. brokaw. i've admired you for many years. i just had a couple of quick comments. [inaudible] the late 1960s when we're in los angeles and you were stationed there. and educate us about a half-hour of your time talking with us. i also wanted to express my somebody's about your mother. i was the "orange county register" every morning, and i was sorry to learn of her passing. i wanted your opinion on what you think about some of these
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people that every election year say well, if this candidate doesn't become president, i'm going to leave the country. yet when my son asked me in 2002 what would you do if mr. gore wins, mom, knowing that we supported president bush, i said you support your president. this is what we do in this country, his support supposed to support a prison to get today even today i hear people say well, i'm going to leave the country if this candidate comes in. i'll hang out to listen to your reply. and again thank you for your many, many years of service. i've always enjoyed watching you. >> guest: think you. i also happen to like to make you a lot. it's one of the little secrets of southern california. the fact is that people made those threats and they almost never ever taken out. it's kind of bombast that year and every election cycle. the difference is now that we
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do, both to the bloggers and talk radio and the other outlets, that we have lowered public discourse i thnk to a different level. pat leahy, the democratic senator from vermont, has been held for so long, had a republican father, who was a banker in his hometown, anti-removers when fdr came to town and his father was not a fan of fdr to his father took off his hat as the president passed by, and one of his friends said to him, you don't like fdr? he said he's the president of the united states. he deserves my respect. that rarely happens anymore, which is too bad it doesn't mean that you have unquestioning loyalty to a president, but you do on her the office and try to keep it at such a level that it will attract the best the
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country has to offer. >> host: in "the time of our lives," tom brokaw has a chapter called everyone is a journalist, and his e-mail has come in for him from david gates. everyone can use mobile devices to create their own media and then publish what they have to say the of the general internet, et cetera. what impact does this democratization of media creation and media use having unprofessional journalism? >> guest: one of my friends in montana who reach the internet, will come to me and say you're not going to believe what a read on the internet today. and i was say the same thing to her. you're right, i'm not going to believe what i read on the net today. as i to audiences coming up at the same test for what you get from the internet and the same skepticism as you would when you go into best buy to buy a flatscreen television, or if you going to joseph bank to buy a shirt. you check the consumer goods,
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you done the research. when it comes to information you have to do the same thing. now having said that, the democratization of the internet means that we do get to hear some interesting voices. you can find people out there who have a different take, and write it very well and may cause you to think in different fashion. but it doesn't mean that you have to just be a site for taking this in. >> host: in "a long way from home," for so where did you come up with that title? "a long way from home," where did you come up with that title? >> guest: i think it is been used by others as well. a long way from home, but i am a long way from home. i've been gone from south dakota for more than 50 years but i think they think i will move back any day now. i'm still very attached to all that need to be. i'm going back again in a week or so. to help do a benefit for a boys ranch therefore troubled youngsters do i go hunting their every fall. i'm going back to my reunion
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this year at my alma mater, looking forward to that. so it will always define who i was at one point, and to a large degree, what i became. "a long way from home" means i am a long way from how i grew up. that i still feel passionate hear the voice of my childhood. i can still hear the voice of my father's been gone since 1969. i hear him in my head what to do something that open something comes along. i say what you think of that, read? and i can almost hear the answer. >> host: and for those who don't know, who is ms. south dakota 1959? >> guest: meredith. i first saw her in a trombone case at a summer camp where i was a tent maybe somebody from that town, yanking, before he moved there. thought she was really cute. and she wrote that young man a few john before the end of the summer. when i got to yanking she was in
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my class and she was an all-star obviously, very, very handsome and really smart cheerleader pic and then we had the lead in the play and we were the officers in our class, and we were great friends, but the phrase that young people use is the highest in the idea that guide. she had no interest in me personally because she didn't trust me, she thought i was too reticent and into many other young girls. so we went to high school with very really close friends, and then when i did begin to express an interest in her, with a kind of neighbor of mine young years, and she wrote me this devastating letter saying i didn't want to hear from you, don't show up on my door, you are not going anywhere. your friends and your family can't understand what's happening to you. it was a turnaround moment, but i never thought then that the two of us would get together. typically after a couple of months she came to me and said i was out of line, it was not my
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place to write such a harsh letter to you. i said frankly, i'm grateful. i had it coming. and it turned me around it was reinforced by another friend of ours who later became a very important russian studies scholar at columbia, and he looked at the letter and said she's right, so the two of them that such a high regard for caught me, brought me back, saudi backed. >> host: and in a long way from oh, you recount your marriage and then your first job in omaha. you also talk about november 23, 1963. >> guest: it was a big reality check i think for what was to. the assassination of john f. kennedy, which i announced on the air in omaha with the nbc affiliate, we were dark as they say. we didn't have nbc programming. it was a local program was on the air, and iran, that was a garden show, and i ran down and those -- voice over the fact
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that shots had been fired. and get the update going. and went out in the afternoon to the midwestern governors conference to get the reaction of the midwestern governors who had been gathered around and one of them was george romney was sort of the de facto spokesman. i'm sure, his son mitt romney he was very thoughtful and very comforting in a way that he talked about the impact of the assassination. i then raced out to strategic it command headquarters to see if they were on extra. we did know was going on. they were not. but on the way out, this doesn't happen in america. this is the end of my age of innocence. that gave way to lyndon johnson. lyndon johnson got -- did know how to get out of it. that caused him as the presence. 19 safety, the counterculture movement took hold in america. richard nixon was able to exploit that appropriately to
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appeal to what he called the silent majority, build a base in the south as a result of the resistance of the civil rights movement. he gets elected president that gives us want to get it we have gerald ford and our national nightmare is over. we have jimmy carter who is struggling in the presidency, and out of the west comes ronald reagan who defines in his own way a modern republican conservative president, and rearranges the attitude about the role of the federal government. a lot of things happen as result of the assassination of john f. kennedy. >> host: for a new spaniard kind of a forrest gump career in many ways, didn't you? >> guest: i have, i have in a lot of ways. >> host: you were always there. >> guest: i've been in a lot of places but a lot of my friends have been as well. so as a dan rather by the way. he was in dallas when john f. kennedy was shot. he was in vietnam. i didn't go to vietnam. we had a policy of not sending
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family people are bad to regret. my friends all say, get a, don't regret the. i covered the war at home as i described that i've been jumping at the right place at the right time. and people say what are you most proud of, i always say the same thing, that i mostly got it right, that these were big stories and i worked really hard and trying to understand what they meant and getting it right. >> host: a little over 10 minutes left with our "in depth" guest, tom brokaw. thanks for holding. >> caller: hello, tom. from a guy who considers himself part of south dakota, and they know about those lovely women because i married a gala from hot spring. now, tom, you're such a blessing for america because you have lived such a great life and jumped at the opportunity in the world of communications. and now your books filled with
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history, and as i think it was president truman that said, the only future we don't know is the history we haven't read. now, i want to teach you a little bit passionate. >> host: we are running a little short on time. if you could give a specific question for tom brokaw. comic is very important in terms of the future of the united states. the marijuana question. and our drug question, and also tied in with the problems that we have with mexico. >> guest: these are big issue issues. and here's my answer. i've been going around the country saying to audiences, and individuals that come up to me with those kinds of questions, you have to reenlist as citizens. you have to step forward. election is a perfect time to do it. the arena and is a place that we should all have as part of our
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lives, and when an election year comes along with all the issues that are in play this year, fatty meat is going to require the desperate despite all of us to be highly educated to know what our interest are, to not just about the orthodoxy of others but to develop for ourselves what we think is in the best interests of our family, community, but also the comment best interest of this country. i think mexico as an issue is underplayed, frankly. we are in danger of having a failed state in our southern border with the drug violence in the cartel that exist down there, and the mayhem that goes on in that government. if you go to south texas or arizona or those other places, there's a lot of concern. at the same time, just yesterday in phoenix, i was reading an editorial directed at governor brewer there it was from the arizona republic newspaper saying we have to pay more attention to the border from economic point of view.
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you have made your case about immigration. texas, for example, mexico can still be a robust economy. texas has gone from $57 billion in trade with mexico on an annual basis to i think he billion dollars in about three years. because they are a productive country. arizona have stayed in first year in about eight or made in less than that, $5 billion. so it requires a lot of attention on our part, and the mexican economy will be strong enough that it will provide the opportunities that are now not there and drive young people into the cartel business. finally, about mexico, there are cartels and drugs and violence, because we are the supermarket for drugs. this is where the drugs are being used. this is where they're coming. and we can't ignore the role of american consumption of drugs,
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and feeding the drug violence and the recently that goes on down along the border. we have to do something about an. >> host: have you ever thought about running for political office? >> guest: no. i'm a journalist. i think that that is an honorable profession that i can already hear people saying wait a minute, let's not get carried away. i think it is audible and i think you draw attention to issues by doing that it and as a journalist and as the author of these books, i've had some success in getting people to respond to the issues that i've raised. that gives me a certain amount of pleasure but i think it's primarily my professional responsibility to do that. >> host: a e-mail, where are our statesmen and women today? i am of the same generation as you and i do not see the same leadership from any partisan political spectrum. >> guest: i think that is a common political complaint. we have to create an environment which other people will be willing to step forward to do the. we made a very -- every wrinkle,
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every blemish gets blown sometimes out of proportion. the business of running for public office requires you to also have your hand out causally for the big money that it takes to get elected these days, and to compromise your principles. these are the kinds of issues that we should all be able to get together on at some point. >> host: another e-mail. as an author of a book about the american refugee camps for the vietnamese, rich in 1975, i've been told the publishing world still has an aversion to stories about that war. >> guest: i'm not sure that's true but i think there've been some very successful books that have been written about vietnam in recent years. jim webb, the senator from virginia, who was not only a great war hero but he has written some enduring books about his personal experiences, and also novels about that war. it was a very difficult time for us, and it may require more
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passage of time for people to want to read about vietnam again. >> host: here's an e-mail from betty. love his white sox the occupied your white sox. >> guest: there's a story about that. i forgot to pack it dark socks. i care, these are jocks socks and a carry them where ever i go. so is my attempt to look like david letterman who sometimes wears white sox. >> host: robert, you are on the air. >> caller: thank you. thanks for being such a brilliant journalist and wonderful offer. my name is robert wightman, and i own the "liberty" magazine rights to everything that was published back in liberty in the 1920s, 30s and '40s. and what we are trying to do now is to put together a reflection of that three great decades the 1920s to 30s and '40s, and have a great personality in the world who go for "liberty" magazine and we own over 17,000
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stories. with authors like roosevelt, einstein, candy, hitler, stalin, everybody wrote for this magazine. and all the material is under copyright. and we have absolutely the greatest ingredients for a wonderful feast. and i think you'd probably be the greatest chef that we could choose. and it is wondering how we could contact you? we do have a website, "liberty" magazine.com that you could go to to get a taste spent let me take a look at the. i'm actually more interested in what i had is at this point. that sounds like a wonderful project and i would hope that at some point would be able to see what people were writing and thinking, especially the world leaders that you mentioned during that time. so i wish you well with that. >> host: an e-mail, by the come in the time come in "the time of our lives," tom brokaw writes about the need for a higher level of conversation
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about higher education. tyler e-mails in, i'm watching you and the tv right now. could you please comment on the affordability, accessibility and quality of higher education? >> guest: well, what i think about higher education is that we probably have to we think how we calibrate the need for the mass of americans whose. i am more and more inclined to believe that we've been operating on a three that everybody has to go to college and give essentially the same education but i just don't think that's true anymore. i think that the requirements inside are different, and the needs of society and inclinations of students but i just did a commencement at arizona state university 70,000, a very innovative present by the name of michael crowe in which he said i want to create the university that has relevance to the modern needs of society.
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so they have, because they don't have a centralized campus, they broke the university up into different parts. they have a major and sustainable economics for example, interdisciplinary liberal arts courses. and many of their young people are getting jobs right out of college because it's more practically oriented. vendor ought to be institutions like the ivs and the stamp country and stanford's, cornell, where you can go and get a classic liberal arts education of some kind, or to want to go into the sciences, you go to caltech or mit. but we need to rewrite them if you will, the charter for a lot of colleges in america so that they are more user friendly to people who want to develop the skills will serve them well in the modern workplace. >> host: joy, louisiana, we have a few minutes left. >> caller: hello? >> host: please go ahead.
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>> caller: yes, mr. brokaw. listen, i have been trying to get you for an hour because i tend to agree with a lot of what you say but i disagree also with live blacks support president obama. you know, and me, we vote in her own interests. we were supporters of the president -- patna, they weren't people that look like us but i would never vote for someone like, like the guy out of florida that -- >> guest: herman cain. >> caller: i wouldn't vote for, i just wouldn't support -- >> guest: i'm not saying it's an automatic pass, but people are inclined over the years to vote for folks that have some identification with their own roots and culture in which they have grown up. it was no secret why the
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kennedys ran so successfully and heavily irish american boston, for example. and if you grew up in my part of the world and you had a candidate with a scandinavian last name, you know, there was a lot of scandinavian population would be inclined, they would know where they came from, whether coulter was, what their faith was. so i'm not making it a rigid kind of thing, but the fact is that president obama rant extraordinarily heavy and african-americans. that was not surprising to a lot of people. and with good reason. they felt and identification with them. this is all helping change the landscape i think in the kinds of people who do step forward and can expect to be successful in some fashion. >> host: linda tweets and that she enjoyed your graduation talk at asu. just recently. and another tweet.
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mr. brokaw, what are the population more, tragedy like 9/11 or a scandal like watergate? >> guest: repeat the question again. >> host: what hurts the society more, a tragedy that like 9/11 or a scandal like watergate? >> guest: i think in both cases the pain was evident for what it was, but they also provided us with opportunities to take stock about who we are and how we can go on from there. and become stronger as a result, for example, in the case of watergate, paying more attention to the kinds of people who get elected president and the places the rule of law as it is exercised from the oval office if so. 9/11 was an example of we are no longer fortress america, that we are as vulnerable as any country in the world is to these kinds of attacks. >> host: the last call for tom brokaw comes from milwaukee. go ahead.
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>> caller: thank you for taking my call. two quick questions. you being a long time journalist and a historian, do you think that it's a dying breed and are society? and i'm reading the biography, i am a student of history and i'm reading the biography of george cannon. he was from milwaukee, wisconsin, and what is your feeling the knowledge that americans have about international relations and foreign policy and foreign affairs, as opposed to europeans or people outside of this country? >> host: we are running out of time trying to i would do it very quickly. because the size of this country and the immigrant population, there's a lot more interesting than most folks give american citizens for having. a perfect example is that there are two wonderful books out now about al qaeda and taliban are, steve collins is working on one.
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stefan jones from the rand corporation is working on the other one. david marinus is working on another biography at this time, and there are lots of great books that have come out every year by series of journalists/historians that are worth reading. walter isaacson's book on steve jobs is a perfect example of that. it was an international best selling phenomena, and with good reason, because of all the things we can learn from in. >> host: what are you currently reading? >> guest: i read a click particularly actually. i read a wonderful book written by a british fly fisherman about his fought in world war ii. i love that i read about the 48 campaign, which if you think this is wild, that was really well. harry truman and henry wallace and strom thurmond and tom dewey, the first election after the war. so i'm reading, i said about terry anderson and george bush
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and how he decided to go to war. my wife just finished catherine the great which was given to me and she picked it off, so i've got to go back and get involved in that. i've read a lot of magazine stuff, a lot of essays. i actually opened up a little correspondence with a poet by the name of donald paul by the something he wrote in "the new yorker" about growing old, and we spoke to me anyway, so we had a little exchange and that was quite gratifying. i'm in awe of great writers but i don't pretend to be a great writer. i am energetic and i am pretty good sometimes, but the great writers moving in ways that nothing else in life does. >> host: by the way, mr. brokaw mentioned that david mayors has a new biography of president obama coming out. that comes out june 19. on june 17, david marinus will be here for, to take your calls and tweets and to talk to his book. that's on